Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Int'l community should create pressure on Myanmar

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AROUND 200 Buddhists from Myanmar's Chin State crossed into a remote hilly region of Bandarban's Ruma on Monday following intensified fighting between Myanmar army and rebel group Arakan Army, officials said. The fresh arrival of Myanmar nationals takes place at a time when Bangladesh is struggling to cope with the burden of about 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims. Of them, some 750,000 have taken shelter in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar since August 2017 following a military crackdown in Rakhine.
The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka to protest over the new arrivals. On January 4, the Arakan Army reportedly killed 13 people in raids on police border posts. The UN said at least 5,200 people have been displaced by the violence. An accurate death toll has been impossible to ascertain. The fighting has added a new, complex dimension to the troubles in Rakhine that since 2012 have seen religious and communal riots, the mass exodus of Rohingya and killings across all ethnic lines.
While many countries are expelling the Rohingya we are keeping them back---in itself a great humanitarian achievement. But our soft policy towards their repatriation is giving Myanmar the opportunity to stay rigid on its decision. The Myanmar army has been proven conclusively as a trigger happy force this time - and it doesn't need any further proof - by the crossing of Buddhists into Bangladesh.
It is clear that no one is there to discipline the Myanmar army. Since there is no oil in Rakhine we can't expect the West to pass more than token measures in the UN Security Council, and those measures are likely to be vetoed by Russia and China. We need to take effective diplomatic steps to agree China and Russia to take our side in the UNSC and thereby force Myanmar to bring forward a more correct attitude to its Rohingya nationals.
Whether it will happen or not is unknown--so far targeted sanctions by the US against Myanmar's top military officials have had little impact or effect. If an international pressure could be assured against those recalcitrant generals then perhaps it could stop the blood-game in Rakhine State.

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