Published:  01:12 AM, 10 September 2017

Need for global action on Rohingyas

Amnesty International has made it known that the Myanmar authorities have planted land mines along their country's border with Bangladesh. Of course Myanmar has denied such reports and has, in traditional manner, pointed the finger at the 'terrorists' it thinks did the nasty job. This point of view, like everything else the Myanmar government has said in these past many months, can be dismissed out of hand. That is because of the obfuscations and the untruths they have resorted to on the issue of the Rohingyas. The very fact that the Rohingyas are being driven out of their villages and homes, with many of them getting killed by soldiers and the Buddhist mobs accompanying them, makes any case presented by the Myanmar government in its defence extremely untenable and therefore unacceptable.

Clearly those landmines were put in place by Myanmar to inflict maximum punishment on Rohingyas trying to make their way to safety. At the same time, the mines have been planted in order to prevent a return by the fleeing Rohingyas to Rakhine in future. In other words, it is a well calculated move by the Nay Pi Taw authorities to cleanse Myanmar of the Rohingyas. And that of course calls for action on the part of the international community. So far the Myanmar government has not heeded the calls made by Bangladesh, Turkey, the UN Secretary General, Amnesty and others for putting a halt to the genocide now underway in Myanmar. Unfortunately, expectations that such nations as the US, Russia, China and India would pile pressure on Myanmar on the Rohingya issue have so far been belied. The consequences have been terrible.

On the one hand, the Rohingyas continue to leave their homes in order to save themselves from the Myanmar army's atrocities. On the other, Bangladesh is helpless in such conditions and despite its policy of not opening its doors to the refugees --- because of its own economic compulsions --- has seen tens of thousands of Rohingyas enter the country.

For the Bangladesh government, the priorities should be clear. It can attempt to engage the Myanmar government on the issue, a move which will likely not bear fruit in view of Myanmar's intransigence. Even so, since the Rohingya crisis does not pit Bangladesh and Myanmar against each other, diplomacy could be given a chance. On a larger scale, Dhaka should launch a diplomatic offensive to persuade Myanmar to put a stop to its brutalities in Rakhine. Contacts must be made with Delhi, Washington, Moscow, Beijing and every relevant international organization in order to forge a common front to tackle Myanmar on the issue.

At the United Nations, Bangladesh can sound out other member states on the need for a special General Assembly or Security Council session to discuss the means by which the Rohingyas can be helped to return to their homes through pressuring the Myanmar government to call off its policy of repression. Action by the international community is the priority now. The more the delay in taking such action the greater the risk of Myanmar taking things for granted.

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