The Rohingya community appears to be the most persecuted and helpless minority group in the present world.
By Muhammad Ubaidul Haque
The Rohingya community appears to be the most persecuted and helpless minority group in the present world. After the 25th August militant attack on a police station, torture against the Rohingya community escalated and almost took the form of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ according to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The Myanmar military and Buddhist monks led a massive attack on the Rohingya community in the Rakhine state, killing thousands of Rohingyas, burning their houses and forcibly ousting them from their homes.
The Rohingyas have faced periodic raids designed to oust them from their lands, dating as far back as 1978 when ‘Operation King Dragon’ was launched. Since 2012, smaller spates of violence have erupted, each time accompanied by reports of government and mob-led village raids and burnings, rapes and murders and ever-increasing restrictions on Rohingya movement and activity.
After the post-August 25th attacks, the influx of Rohingyas into Bangladesh began, with the government of Bangladesh first denying them access and pushing them back. However, after some days later, the situation became so overwhelming that Bangladesh could not but open its borders.
Since then, the number of Rohingyas flooding into Bangladesh has risen to over 600,000 and is increasing. Various international, national, local and community level organizations have extended their assistance to these distressed Rohingya people.
The refugees are facing different types of challenges as there are a lot of injured people, raped women, malnourishment among women and children, lack of pure drinking water and sanitation problems that are making the overall situation more challenging and devastating.
It is unclear how long the refugees will have to remain in Bangladesh because the Myanmar government’s refusal to accept the Rohingya community as inhabitants of the Rakhine state.
The prime minister of Bangladesh has urged the international community to accommodate the Rohingya people. The situation has begun changing and perceptions about the Rohingyas are turning in their favour. However, the progress of their repatriation process is far from satisfactory despite exchanges between the home minister of Bangladesh and the representative of Myanmar’s State Councillor.
Countries like China, India and Russia are a little more flexible now but have not come out in whole-hearted support of the Rohingyas. The UN Security Council is unable to proceed against Myanmar without the support of China and Russia.
There have been apprehensions of criminalization and radicalization among the Rohingyas, creating social unrest and destabilization of peace and security in Bangladesh, which cannot overlook the threat of terrorism.
The environmental challenge is also serious, as hills and forests have been destroyed to accommodate the refugees. The long time impact is really dangerous for Bangladesh.
To end this grave crisis, a broad-based consensus within the world community is needed and the willingness of the Myanmar government is important. Implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission Report and permanent supervision and monitoring of the situation in the Rakhine by the United Nations and international community must be ensured.
The five-point proposal that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made at the 72nd UNGA session on September 21 appears to be the most reasonable and acceptable option.
These proposals were:
- Myanmar must unconditionally stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State immediately and forever.
- Secretary General of the United Nations should immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar.
- All civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, must be protected in Myanmar. For that "safe zones" could be created inside Myanmar under United Nations’ supervision.
- Ensure sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar.
- Recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission Report must be immediately implemented unconditionally and in its entirety.
If there are any better proposals to mitigate the humanitarian problem, they should be merged with this five-point agenda and lead toward ensuring the safety and security not only of the Rohingya community and Bangladesh, but also of the entire region, where it is turning into a humanitarian and security nightmare. Bangladesh must strongly raise its voice and work to ensure that the crisis is fixed immediately and permanently.
(The writer is a student of public administration at the University of Dhaka. He can be contacted at email@example.com)