Bhutan Can Play Role In Rohingya Crisis Solution – OpEd


South Asian neighbors Bangladesh and Bhutan have a harmonious relationship on the strength of their mutual interest, shared history and culture. On December 6, 1971, Bhutan and India became the first countries to recognize the independence of Bangladesh. Bangladesh-Bhutan ties started to deepen from this period. Bhutan and Bangladesh signed  ‘PTA’ on December 06, 2020. After PTA, Bhutan and Bangladesh can cooperate to resolve some regional crisis. Bhutan and Bangladesh can work together in resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis because it is a regional crisis.  For decades, Myanmar has gone through extreme cruelty to the Rohingya. Never cared about the law. The Rohingya problem is not new to Bangladesh. This problem, which started in 1978, became apparent in August 2017. More than 1 million Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to save their lives when the Myanmar army launched a brutal operation against the Rohingya ethnic group. Bangladesh is seeking the intervention of the United States, the European Union and the United Nations as well as the regional alliance ASEAN for a lasting and acceptable solution to the Rohingya problem.

Now Bangladesh is facing serious problems for this artificial crisis committed by Myanmar.  Some socio-economic threats are rising in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has given shelter to Rohingyas for humanitarian reasons. But because of this humanity, the country is now at risk. As a result, there is a danger of Rohingyas spreading all over the country, there are also many challenges

The forest is being uprooted, they are cutting down the mountains and destroying them. There are also long-term economic risks Socio-economic and political problems may also be evident, and security risks may increase. Illegal narcotics trade, human trafficking, prostitution, terrorism in Rohingya camps is increasing in camps. 

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar within two years in 2017 and 2019 respectively. The Myanmar authority did not take back the Rohingyas according to the agreement. It is true that they don’t want to repatriate Rohingyas in Myanmar. Bangladesh raised the issue in every international forum. Many countries have supported Bangladesh. But Myanmar has no respect the international law and norms. Some mighty powers may have behind the scene. 

Bangladesh Prime Minister has raised the issue at UNGA on September 25, 2021 to draw the attention in solving the Rohingya crisis. She has focused specially on the engagement of ASEAN leaders. It is ASEAN which can solve Rohingya refugee problem easily.

As a South Asian country and well trusted friends of Bangladesh, Bhutan can easily solve it. Bhutan can be mediator in this regard. Bhutan has very warm relations with both Myanmar and Bangladesh. 

Various countries and international organizations have taken various measures to solve the Rohingya problem. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized Myanmar authorities for being lax in repatriating displaced Rohingya. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep concern over the ongoing Rohingya crisis. Yang Lee, the UN special envoy for human rights in Myanmar, said all major countries in the world had a responsibility to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

In this regard, Bhutan can and should play a very significant role to solve the crisis such ways:

  1. Bhutan can support Bangladesh at every international forum such as at UNGA, regional conference. They can vote in favor of Bangladesh. They can raise the issue in BIMSTEC and SAARC platforms.
  2. Bhutan can negotiate with Myanmar diplomatically and bilaterally. It has good bilateral relations with Myanmar)
  3. Bhutan can engage with others regional states to solve the crisis. 
  4. Bhutan’s Buddhist society can play an effective role in this regard. The relations of Buddhists between Myanmar and Bhutan are well established. Bhutanese Buddhists can do it very easily. Buddhism is more related to establishment of Peace and non-violence. Bhutanese Buddhists can play a significant role in this regard. They can exercise the path shown by the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha. Buddhist will be recognized as the Avatar of human rights if Buddhist community plays to role in solving Rohingya crisis. It will ensure the regional to some extant World peace and communal harmony.
  5. Bhutan’s businessmen can engage to some extent. Because stability in the region is very needed for investment.

Why should Bhutan should play role resolving the Problem?

  1. This issue is a humanitarian issue. Rohingyas are the son of Land in Rakhine in Myanmar. They have birth rights to reside in Myanmar. 
  2. It is an issue of Justice. According to Luther king Junior, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Myanmar authority committed genocide. The perpetrators should be under international legal jurisdiction. 
  3. It is the issue of region. The whole South Asia and South East Asia may be volatile for this issue. As a South Asian state, Bhutan has some responsibilities. 
  4. Bhutan has very good relations with both Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  5. Enhancing bilateral relations could contribute to the growth of trade and investment relations with ASEAN and SAARC countries. This will create an opportunity to serve grater regional interest.
  6. Re-establishing the Himalayan-South Asian connectivity can occur if political and diplomatic solutions of Bangladesh-Myanmar strained ties can be found.
  7. Bangladesh has been supporting Bhutan at every international forum. Now it is time and duty for Bhutan to stand by Bangladesh in her crisis moment.

Bhutan and Bangladesh can work mutually in this regard. Bangladesh and Bhutan have a common identity with their peace-loving people sharing similar views on many regional issues. Both are democratic nations. There are many potential areas where Bhutan and Bangladesh can work together for the better promotion of democracy, peacekeeping, regional stability and people’s welfare. However, Bhutan should consider this. Bhutan should do somethings in favor of Bangladesh regarding Rohingya refugee repatriation to Myanmar. Bhutan can make Myanmar understand and agree in this regard.

Bhutan can play a very significant role in this regard. Bhutan can mediate to bolster the strained relations between Bangladesh-Myanmar. Bhutan can play to repatriate the Rohingyas in Rakhine in Myanmar. Bhutan can easily solve the problem because it has a very good relations with Myanmar.

However, as a well-wisher friend and partner in the development process and trade, Bangladesh can expect cooperation and support of Bhutan regarding the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. Bangladesh deserves it. So, Bhutan should help, support Bangladesh and mediate in solving the crisis as soon as possible.

Pathik Hasan

Pathik Hasan is a Dhaka-based NGO activist, researcher and freelance writer on contemporary international issues whose work has been published in many local and international publications. Academic background: BSS (Peace and Conflict Studies) and MSS (International Relations) under the University of Dhaka. He can be reached at [email protected].

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