Repatriation of Rohingya Muslims: Myanmar must fulfill their demands

Wretchedly vulnerable victims of brutally frenzied anti-Muslim communal fire and ethnic cleansing without a shred of doubt — accused by the UN of genocide against Rohingya Muslims — the emaciated and famished out of prolonged starvation, all in tattered and soiled clothes, the hapless Rohingya men, women and children were foced to leave their hearth and home in Myanmar to take Shelter in neighbouring Bangladeshesh. On being victimised in two phases in 2016 and 2017, they fled their homes in Myanmar to escape slaughter and physical torture, ironically by the murderous violent followers of Lord Buddha, an epitome of nonviolence. In fear of their life, driven by survival instinct and utter desperation these wretched Rohingya Muslims came in country boats across the Naaf River for shelter in Bangladesh. This is a big dilemma: already overpopulated, resource-poor Bangladesh can ill afford to accept anymore refugee influx.
Over 3,000 Rohingyas were placed on a list of refugees and approved for repatriation as part of a fresh attempt by the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to start sending back some of the more than one million refugees living in unclean camps in Cox’s Bazar. But families chosen for repatriation are too scared to return and fear not being given citizenship. Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, Abul Kalam, said on 21 Aug that transportation and logistical assistance was on standby for any refugees who wanted to cross the border on 22 August, the given date for repatriations to begin. 214 Rohingya families were “interviewed in the process of the intention surveys.” [Vide Rohingya refugees refuse to return to Myanmar without rights guarantee: Hannah Ellis-Petersen and Shaikh Azizur Rahman; the Guardian, London, Wed 21 Aug 2019.]
However, a Bangladesh refugee relief official who was present during the intention surveys, led by UNHCR, said they did not find a single family willing to return to Myanmar on 22 August.“Almost all of the 214 families we interviewed today said they would not return until their key demands are met. Rakhine is still hostile and unsafe for them, they said,” said the official, who asked not to be identified as he did not have permission to speak to the press. He was echoed by one of the Rohingya camp leaders, known as a Majhi, who said that he had not spoken to any refugees willing to go back under current conditions. “The Bangladesh government sought some names of some refugees and some other Majhis, and I supplied some list of the refugees to the government officials,” he said, also asking not to be identified, fearing reprisals from the authorities. “We were never told that those names would be sent to Burma seeking clearance for their repatriation. Many refugees are aggrieved for their names were sent to Burmese authorities without taking their consent.” [Ibid.]
It is an unquestionable universally recognized fact that sheltering over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees is a gigantic task for Bangladesh which is one of the most densely populated countries of the world. Referring to this stupendous crisis Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told on July 31 Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, also British PM’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, that hosting such a huge number of people is a big burden for Bangladesh.
Given that the Rohingya Muslim refugees have experienced the worst nightmare of their life, hence their concern is genuine. There was suspicion as well as uncertainty regarding Rohingya repatriation attempt, as reported on August 22 in the Daily Star which said the refugees were not willing to go back unless their demands are met. Some Rohingyas, on condition of anonymity, said they had told the UNHCR they would not go back to Myanmar if their demands were not met. The demands are: trying those who killed and tortured Rohingyas and drove them out of their land; ensuring citizenship and security of Rohingyas; giving back their land and properties; and protecting all fundamental rights of Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
For cogent reasons it afforded all and sundry in this country a piece of consoling repose — like a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel — when during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s meeting on 05 July in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the latter agreed that there should be a quick solution to the Rohingya crisis so that the displaced people can go back to their homeland soon. Speaking at the meeting, the PM said Bangladesh was hosting 1.1 million Rohingyas. It has emerged as environmental and security challenges and trafficking problem in particular. The two leaders agreed that the Rohingya crisis will have to be solved quickly; it can’t be kept unsolved anymore.
It is appropriately pertinent that New Delhi—the so-called closest friend of Dhaka — never stood beside Bangladesh on this most pressing Rohingya issue. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his three-day visit to Yangon expressed “solidarity with the Myanmar government”. [Vide Economic Times. India Times, Sep 09, 2017]. What is more, India supported Suu Kyi government and rejected ‘Bali declaration’, a joint statement by the World Parliamentary Forum in Indonesia, that refered to human rights violation in Myanmar. [ The Hindu, September 08, 2017.]
Notwithstanding the fact that concern for minimal public security is the sine qua non of any government worthy of the name, Myanmar’s de facto Head of State Aung San Suu Kyi, with her blatantly cavalier attitude, continues to preside over ethnic cleansing and indiscriminate slaughter—virtual Genocide—of the minority Rohingya Muslims whose ancestral homes are in Rakhine State, Myanmar. [Vide www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42335018: Justin Rowlatt, “Could Aung San Suu Kyi face Rohingya genocide charges?” dated 18 December 2017].
Rohingya Muslims, the helpless victims of anti-Muslim communal fire, racist pogrom and irrefutable ethnic cleansing have suffered too much. The bottom-line is, all concerned should refer to former UN chief Kofi Annan’s recommendations in his Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to reach a logical solution.

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