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A renewed vow to ensure Rohingya rights

Published : Wednesday, 29 August, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 1218

On the first anniversary of the deadly crackdown on Rohingya minority community in Rakhine State, it seems that the world has taken a renewed vow to send back the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to their ancestral home and punish those perpetrators responsible for genocide and war crimes in the Buddhist dominated country.

As the world observe the anniversary, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission has come up with its report which said the Myanmar military leadership, including its commander-in-chief and five top generals, must be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes over their actions against the Rohingyas.

The mission found that the Myanmar military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingyas with "genocidal intent" and the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi allowed hate speech to thrive, destroyed documents and failed to protect minorities from crimes.

The UN panel called for the UN Security Council to set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the mission said in a report published on Monday. With the publication of the report Facebook said on Monday it was banning Burma's powerful military chief and 19 other individuals and organisations from its site to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation.

On the crackdown anniversary media surged its coverage on the Rohingya refugees living in hundreds and thousands in Bangladesh camps, as the world leaders, global guilds and rights groups turned increasingly vocal against oppressive Myanmar government. World media including those in Bangladesh, widened their coverage beyond their regular and normal domains to create a forceful public opinion against the military crackdown that forced Rohingyas to flee their homeland to Bangladesh.

On the anniversary, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States will continue to hold accountable those responsible for what he described as the "abhorrent ethnic cleansing" of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. "A year ago, following deadly militant attacks, security forces responded by launching abhorrent ethnic cleansing of ethnic #Rohingya in Burma," Pompeo said on Twitter, using an alternative name for Myanmar. "The US will continue to hold those responsible accountable. The military must respect human rights for #Burma's democracy to succeed."

Earlier this month, the United States imposed sanctions on four Myanmar military and police commanders and two army units, accusing them of "ethnic cleansing" against Rohingya Muslims and widespread human rights abuses across the Southeast Asian nation. Amnesty International said on the occasion that world leaders' failure had allowed perpetrators of crimes against Rohingya to remain at large for a year.

There is a mountain of evidence that the murder, rape, torture, burning and forced starvation was part of a highly orchestrated, systematic attack on the Rohingya population. The rights body demanded that Australia must cede all military cooperation with Myanmar. "That Australian taxpayers' money is going to support the perpetrators is unthinkable," said Diana Sayed, Amnesty International Australia's Crisis Campaigner.

On the anniversary thousands of refugees marched prayed and chanted slogans in events across the sprawling camps at Kutupalong of Ukia in south-eastern Bangladesh. Many wore black ribbons to commemorate what they said was the start of the "Rohingya genocide". Leaders of influential countries, rights groups and the world guilds like the United Nations and the European Unions, came up with hard words influencing the media to take up the lingering issue anew in a bid to compel Myanmar to take the refugees back, easing a huge burden from the shoulder of Bangladesh.

Majority of the people of the world who condemn Myanmar for forcibly ousting Rohingyas and show utmost sympathy to the hundreds and thousands of Rohingyas struggling to survive in the refugee camps, wish that US Secretary of State Pompeo and other government leaders of different countries will really hold Myanmar and its government responsible for this deadly persecution of Rohingyas.

People of Bangladesh hope the world will be united to force Myanmar to take back Rohingyas from Bangladesh and give them full citizenship with all human rights as soon as possible. Bangladesh hopes that its biggest trade partners China and India along with Russia like in the past will not put any obstacles in futures in United Nations Security Council from taking any decision against Myanmar. However, both China and India verbally assured Bangladesh of all cooperation in starting repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar. In fact their lacklustre stance encouraged Myanmar to perpetuate persecution of Rohingyas.

Many understand that being an emerging economy Bangladesh is in a fix, it neither can be diplomatically harsh with China and India nor with Russia, who have been executing big financial and business deals with Myanmar. However, the so-called friends of Bangladesh should understand that a friend in need is a friend indeed. So they must stand beside Bangladesh when it needs them at least as supporters in difficult situations.

The friends must understand that despite financial constraints Bangladesh is hosting more than one million Rohingyas, including 700,000 mostly Muslims who fled across the border to safety at the world's biggest refugee camp, over the last one year, after the crackdown. About 300,000 Rohingyas fled Myanmar to Bangladesh following deadly 2012 communal riot. The figure also includes 30,000 other remnants of some 250,000 Rohingyas who had fled military atrocities in Myanmar in 1991-92. Others were repatriated to Myanmar from 1992 to 1998 with the active cooperation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The crackdown was launched on August 25, 2017, to retaliate attacks of Rohingya militants - Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on Myanmar police posts. Most people think that the world including the UN and influential government like US, France, Germany, England have failed to compel Myanmar to stop persecution and take back all the evicted people from Bangladesh.

According to chronicles the military ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years after seizing power in a 1962 coup and retains considerable powers under a 2008 constitution. An estimated 25,000 Rohingyas were murdered and 19,000 Rohingya women and adolescents raped during the military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state since late August last year, according to a research report.

The research titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience" was conducted by a research consortium of academics, practitioners and organisations from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Norway and the Philippine. It also found that around 43,000 Rohingyas suffered bullet wounds, 36,000 were thrown into fire and 116,000 beaten up by the Myanmar authorities.

Amid the crackdown, which was often dubbed genocide by the media, refugees arrived in Bangladesh on foot or in flimsy boats. Many of them narrated horrific stories of sexual violence, torture and villages burned to the ground.
Despite a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh signed in November last year Myanmar has failed to create congenial atmosphere in Rakhine to repatriate the Rohingyas. But instead Myanmar has been trying to blame Bangladesh for the delay.

The author is Business Editor,
The Daily Observer



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