Facing Humanity Vs Reality Catch
Bangladesh caught into a dilemma with Rohingya refugee influx as fresh fight among Muslim Rohinga and Buddhist Arakanese broke out in recent months. Which direction Bangladesh chooses is Catch-22. In one hand Bangladesh has tried to do everything possible sensing humanitarian aspect. Bangladesh dealt the issue compassionately for almost three decades but seeing no end to this crisis and sincere effort from international community Bangladesh faces the reality and its inability to deal with this issue further is completely understandable.
The Rohingya are Muslim ethnic minority living in northern Arakan state in western Myanmar. They face religious discrimination at the hands of Myanmar’s military regime, which doesn’t recognize the Rohingya as citizens of Myanmar. The regime does not consider the Rohingya people as one of 135 legally recognized ethnic minority groups in Myanmar, leaving the Rohingya rights-less in their own homeland.
Bangladesh, world’s most densely inhabited country with extreme tightness of available land and poor economy cannot sustain influx of new refuge for indefinite time. Bangladesh has done its part when no one cared and continues to do so in humanitarian ground. Nevertheless, there is no sign of international community coming forward to resolve this grave issue and demanding that Myanmar government treat its own citizen with compassion, dignity and rights that they deserve.
Regrettably, United Nations, SAARC, OIC or ASEAN never took this state of affairs into serious consideration but prescribed for temporary solution. The only organ among UN bodies which remain modestly active is UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Nevertheless, their power and scope is so inadequate facing this gigantic issue that instead of having this decade’s long issue resolved the issue is now in a calamitous condition. Time to time it irrupts like volcano and sends all of its lava and ashes down the hill to Bangladesh. It is so unfortunate that alike United Nations, SAARC and ASEAN, association of 56 Islamic states promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs called Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) completely failed to provide minimum leadership or even importance to this momentous matter.
Facing Humanity Vs Reality Catch-22 Bangladesh can no longer open their border for new influx of Myanmar’s citizen but should do anything and everything humanely possible to assist Rohingya who are fleeing the situation in Myanmar. Bangladesh must recognize its own interest, limitation and reality first before it can land a hand.
Chittagong’s Teknaf, Ukhia and Cox Bazaar and many other places are facing tremendous stress since 1978 when the first wave of Arakanese Muslims refuge arrived following the ‘Nagamin’ (‘Dragon King’) operation of the Myanmar army. Over 200,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during 1978 and 1979. Second wave came during 1991-92, over a quarter of a million Rohingya fled into Bangladesh. However this is an official account but unofficial account puts Rohingya refugee even in a higher number.
This huge influx of refugee created socio-economic crisis in eastern part of Bangladesh especially greater Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts area. Law and order situation is worsening and tension among locals and refuge’s are on the rise. This situation is unsustainable and international community must do its part to resolve this rather then pressuring Bangladesh government to accept more refuge into its territory.
It is unfortunate that some political quarters of Bangladesh is playing wild card to worsen the situation. Rather than humanitarian reason BNP and Jamaat-E-Islami is playing with the plight of Rohingya for their own narrow political interest. This must be stopped at once and all quarters must oblige with national interest first.
There is only one way to resolve this issue, dialog and cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh. In absence of international community’s lack of involvement Bangladesh must lead its own effort with Myanmar government to stabilize this unstable situation and stop further deterioration of the situation.
Myanmar is our immediate neighbor and we cannot effort to weaken our relation with them. Yes, the humanitarian plight of Rohingya warrants our attention but we must do everything to settle the matter within the boundary of Myanmar and not letting it spill over our own territory and creating an intangible burden on our economy and socio-political condition.
We Bangladeshis must evaluate the situation wisely and not view it from the kaleidoscope of our own political views and place superficial colors that do not exist in this conflict. We know from our recent past history BNP-Jamaat alliance government used these poor helpless Rohingya refugees for their own interest and the interest of their international masters not just against Myanmar government but against Bangladesh as well. We should not allow an inch of our land for harboring any form of terrorism whether it is cross boundary or within our own territory. We must stay alert that no political agenda gets into the way of our humanitarian effort.
Bangladesh must call upon international authorities such as UN to settle this matter amicable with the government of Myanmar. The situation political in Myanmar is also changing toward more acceptance and we certainly hope the wind of change will make way to resolve this long standing issue and all Rohingya refugees will return to their homeland and play a vital role on shaping the new democratic society in Myanmar.
Myanmar President is scheduled to visit Bangladesh shortly; Bangladesh must take this opportunity seriously and bring permanent peace, stability and economical emancipation for this region. Bangladesh do want to end this refugee influx but through friendship and closely monitored dialog between two government.
Bangladesh and Myanmar both countries have done wrong calculation of the situation in past, rather than peaceful constructive engaged dialog both countries took unreasonable way of showing force. During Gen. Zia’s regime in 1978 when the first incident took place and refugees flooded Bangladesh rather than engaging into productive dialog with the Burmese government Bangladesh deployed its naval fleet to Naaf River and its arms forces to Burmese border. Burmese government did the same hence the prospect of nailing the issue in the make was lost. Because of failure of then leadership both country has suffered enormously. Bangladesh must not let it happen again, we must grasp the situation and make effort to close this chapter for once and all.
We must call upon the Rohingya refugees at large to reject the people who are motivated with their own agenda and wants to use them. Rohingyan’s inside the territory of Myanmar and inhabitants of refugee camps in Bangladesh must remain united and vigilant to seize any opportunity to resolve the issue peacefully. Arakanese and Rohingyan’s are leaving side by side for centuries. Both of them faced annihilation and oppression by foreign as well as own rulers. For centuries Arakanese and Rohingyan’s prospered together, we sincerely hope the realization will come that unity is strength and division is weakness that will hurt both ethnicity alike.
Our hope Nobel peace prize laureate Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will play her role and speak for oppressed citizens of her own country. Failing to do so she will just prove to be leader of a segment of her country and put a stigma on the face of Nobel