Rohingya crisis: Dhaka’s moves take shape

Sheikh Shahariar Zaman
Published : 01:00, Dec 09, 2019 | Updated : 01:00, Dec 09, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Photographers help a Rohingya refugee to come out of Nad River as they cross the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Palong Khali, near Cox`s Bazar, Bangladesh, Nov 1, 2017. REUTERSSenior diplomat Masud Bin Momen and army chief have flown on the same day to separate destinations but with a common purpose -- the Rohingya crisis.
Momen, a secretary to the foreign ministry, went to the Hague to attend the hearing of the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice while General Aziz Ahmed went to Nay Pyi Taw to open “a new line of negotiation” with the country.
“This is not a contradictory move. We never said that we closed the bilateral window,” says former foreign secretary Touhid Hossain.
He was of the view that the crisis would not be resolved bilaterally unless there is substantial international pressure.
“We want that our friendly countries continue to exert pressure on Myanmar and side by side Bangladesh needs to maintain bilateral efforts with the country,” he said.
Former Defence Attache of Bangladesh mission in Myanmar Md Shahidul Haque said during his tenure he facilitated the then-army chief's visit to the country.
“But, this time before the visit, the foreign minister briefed the general and it will be helpful in resolving the crisis.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Myanmar on Dec 7 and 8, just prior to State Counsellor Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s departure to the Netherlands to defend the army which she fought against for over two decades.
China openly supports Myanmar and its foreign minister's recent visit Yi is a part of that solidarity, according to former foreign secretary Touhid.
“We don’t know whether Wang Yi went there to express their support or gave any advice but it’s natural,” he said.
Shahidul, the former defence attache in Myanmar, however, said “There is a tension going on at the China-Myanmar border and it is more likely the Chinese foreign minister discussed about it with Myanmar officials.”
Recently a huge consignment of Chinese arms, including anti-aircraft missiles, was intercepted by security forces in the border areas, he said.
Several Myanmar insurgent groups are allegedly backed by China, which Beijing uses as a bargaining chip while negotiating with the country, according to Shahidul.
“Myanmar is now under pressure and China chose the perfect time to send its foreign minister to negotiate whatever interests they have in the country,” he added.
Once an icon of democracy in the eyes of the West, Suu Kyi lost her partial credibility due to her silence over the Rohingya atrocities.
Former foreing secretary Touhid says that it's very natural of Suu Kyi defending the army, which kept her in house arrest for over two decades and denied democracy to those people whom now she is the leader.
“It is all about politics as Suu Kyi wants power,” he said before adding, “She won the last election through a compromise with the army.”
The former foreign secretary said it is true that now Myanmar is under pressure but they would continue their efforts to get out this mess.
Former attaché Shahidul echoed and said, “Suu Kyi is defending the army as the general election in Myanmar is due next year.”
This move will increase her popularity and help her to gain substantial votes in the next polls, he added.