Rohingya repatriation fiasco and India’s silence!

Towheed Feroze
Published : 15:45, Aug 29, 2019 | Updated : 15:53, Aug 29, 2019

Towheed FerozeThe truth had always been at the back of our heads – the Rohingyas who fled atrocities in Myanmar and took refuge in Bangladesh won’t go back easily. And there’s no reason to blame them either because one cannot go back and take a plunge into uncertainty.
The repatriation, slated for Aug 22, ended without any result since not a single Rohingya showed up. Myanmar, in the meantime, is blaming Bangladesh for the failure of the repatriation.
One is curious to know if anyone believes the statement Myanmar sends out every now and then, trying to present themselves as the country eager to take back the people who fled to save their lives from a brutal crackdown.

Why should anyone believe Myanmar?

To create a credible base, Myanmar had to open up Rakhine for inspection, which would have allowed the world to see the socio-economic changes needed for the Rohingyas to live with dignity.

The reality is that after Aug 25 crackdown, which the UN has called genocide, Myanmar has not admitted to the crime and the puppet civilian government has only resorted to obfuscation when confronted on the matter.

So, the first point is, when a country’s administration is refusing to admit to the crimes committed by her military forces, it is deliberately trying to airbrush facts.

In such a situation, with Myanmar not directly taking the blame, what is the assurance that the returning people would be treated fairly?

FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees manually drill a borewell at a camp in Cox`s Bazar, Bangladesh September 18, 2017. REUTERSSecondly, we only hear Bangladesh’s appeal at the world stage about the Rohingya crisis, whereas Myanmar is completely silent on the issue.

Can one show us even two Myanmar authority figures bringing up the matter at a global event?

This indicates that Myanmar has no desire to discuss the matter. So, why would the Rohingyas feel a need to go back when they see that the country they plan to go back to has no intention of talking about repatriation?

Myanmar refuses to allow foreign observers to carry out a thorough survey of Rakhine, where the Rohingyas reportedly faced extreme right-wing Buddhist radicalism.

The military can be checked but without a change in the attitude of the local Buddhist community, the Rohingyas will only return to a condition of inferior existence.

There has not been a promise of social integration and Myanmar did not send any team to Bangladesh to openly interact with Rohingyas about how social inclusion can happen in several stages.

There is no denying that the Rohingyas faced torture and violence in Rakhine and while Myanmar says she is open for repatriation, the actions on the ground speak of a different intention.

The seven Rohingya men to be deported sit as Indian and Myanmar security officials exchange documents before their deportation on India-Myanmar border at Moreh in the northeastern state of Manipur, India, October 4, 2018.  REUTERSA third-party mediation is essential but who’s interested?

From the crisis, it’s clear that unless a major powerhouse actively takes up the role of a mediator and then creates pressure on Myanmar to discard the cloak and dagger approach, the current complexity will only fester.

In the South Asia region, the biggest player is India, who has been absolutely silent on the issue since the crisis broke out two years ago.

Bangladesh is going from country to country with the problem, asking for support and diplomatic pressure on Myanmar while the ‘big boy’ in the locality remains apathetic.

India’s unwillingness to come to the aid of Bangladesh on the matter is also reflected in the country’s media where Rohingya imbroglio is hardly mentioned.

The Indo-Bangla relations are reported to be at an all-time high though the much-trumpeted ‘entente cordiale’ is never corroborated by any solid action of the big neighbour on the Rohingya crisis.

China has expressed a desire to play a role though so far, no pressure has been created on Myanmar.

In truth, hardly any country has taken the matter seriously. There have been platitudes, rhetoric about the mistreatment of the Rohingyas and a few scrapping of honours conferred on Aung San Suu Kyi.

India wants to be a leader in the region yet does not want to play a constructive role in finding a solution to a problem which involves millions of people, says Faizul Bari, a political analyst.

On Aug 22, Chinese embassy officials were at the repatriation points. They saw first-hand that Rohingyas’ insecurities about going back and therefore, the next step for China should be to organise a face to face discussion between Bangladesh and Myanmar, where the different facets of the problem need to be resolved with China working as the rapporteur.

Views of the Rohingya camps south of Cox`s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh that now make up the world`s largest refugee settlement, home to more than 900,000 people. Balukhali camp, Bangladesh, Jan 28,2019. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Belinda GoldsmithCrimes, drugs at camps reasons for worry:

While Bangladesh has given refuge to over 1.1 million people, the rising tensions at the camps plus the exploitation of Rohingyas in carrying drugs into Bangladesh triggers concern. The ongoing countrywide anti yaba crackdown will be undermined if Rohingyas are used as carriers to Bangladesh.

The main source of yaba is Myanmar and the lack of vigilance on the Burmese side proves that Myanmar is not doing enough to stop the drug from entering another country.

This underpins a sinister motive, forcing the question: does Myanmar want to decimate the youth potential of Bangladesh?

With the Aug 22 repatriation falling flat, the reality is that the Rohingyas are here for some time. The only hope is that China will act on its promise and exert some pressure on Myanmar.

If that happens, there may be a chance of a resolution.

As for India’s role, one is compelled to say, their definition of strong friendship often translates into: when my interest is at stake, I am your bosom buddy, otherwise, you are on your own, pal! 

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.