Monday, February 19, 2018 | ePaper

We need diplomatic offensive with the option of military cooperation

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A Rohingya refugee boy jostles for aid in Cox's Bazar on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

Diplomatic Correspondent :
No sweet diplomacy will work. Military in Myanmar has taken calculated military decision to throw the Rohingyas out of their country knowing the weakness of Bangladesh.  Their military assessment was that without the support of India Bangladesh will not have the courage or guts to move to meet the challenge of aggression committed against it.

It shows no understanding of the crisis or the challenge when anybody says that if we can feed sixteen crore (160 million) of our own people, we can also feed four lakhs Rohingya refugees. They have not come here to be fed by us because they were not poor or starving in their own country. Now they had to leave behind everything to save their lives.

It is very unkind to imply that they came here to be fed by us. The international community has shown their willingness to offer all humanitarian help without waiting for our government to appeal. Such humanitarian help like food, medicine etc. will be available if the refugees themselves so seek. So feeding these refugees is not the real problem if we can end the mismanagement of distribution both international and local aid.

Among the Muslim countries Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia have been playing much more an active role for mobilising world opinion in eliminating the cause of displacement of Muslim Rohingyas from their homeland than we have so far.

We have not been able to grasp the challenge on us and so we have no policy formulation either. To be blunt, Bangladesh government sees no hope anywhere without the support of India. Although from the beginning, the US has been expressing concern for the Rohingya crisis to put pressure on the Myanmar government, yet our Prime Minister sees no hope in American policy. This is not the way to get new friends.

At the United Nations conference also American President Donald Trump assured of being on the side of Bangladesh. But our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is not hopeful to get any help from the US President.

She may be right. But one can ask what she is doing to be hopeful about other countries and what kind of help she wants. Besides India, the two others of her most trusted friends China and Russia have left her and are supporting Myanmar unhesitatingly. Let her try to get their support. If no meaningful help for us can be secured from them then what? We shall live in the crisis, and do nothing.

Our understanding is: Myanmar is determined not to take back the Rohingya Muslims. The army has made that clear. The world can rightly condemning Aung San Suu Kyi for moral cowardice and emptiness of her human considerations for the brutal ethnic cleansing in her own country. She has steadfastly refused to criticise the army. The UN has called the massacre of Muslims   "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing". In the language of a report in New York Times "It was a remarkable parroting of the language of the generals..... ".
The Rohingyas were  stripped of their citizenship in 1982. So there cannot be any denial that the Rohingya Muslims were citizens of Myanmar. The Annan Commission that Suu Kyi formed also recommended to give back the Rohingyas their citizenship to secure their safety in their own country. Not a word about it is heard from the de facto government of Suu Kyi in support of the Commission's report.

It is against international law to take away citizenship of anybody or any community at the fancy of the government. Under the international law, the Myanmar government cannot drive them out of their country only to create huge humanitarian and demographical problems for Bangladesh. We have to take it as an uncalled for act of enmity against us.

To force the Rohingyas into Bangladesh calling them Bengalis is certainly a military action if not aggression against Bangladesh.

Strong diplomatic activities are called for from Bangladesh government for peaceful solution to show that we mean business. Our diplomatic offensive must include military cooperation for a military response if proved unavoidable. No independent country can tolerate such an unprovoked military operation to create problem in its country from outside. In every way we want to live in peace with Myanmar. But Myanmar cannot treat us as weak and friendless one.

The question is not who is on the side of Bangladesh. The question most pertinent is who are their friends ready to take up the cause of the homeland of Rohingyas usurped by the military of Myanmar. As because Myanmar has done an act of enmity against us our government has no option but to seek resolution of the crisis and friends everywhere.

Myanmar army slaughtered hundreds of people, raped women. Now those who have got shelter in Bangladesh are passing miserable days. Children are dying for inadequate medical care.

We have also no choice but to take up the cause of the Rohingyas sent to our country and give leadership to save us and the Rohingyas for going back to their country. If our friends have deserted our government then we must seek new friends. We are not friendless. Meanwhile we must keep our armed forces on alert.   

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