12:00 AM, January 13, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:15 PM, January 13, 2019
Myanmar’s latest ploy to push out Rohingyas
Will the international community do nothing?
FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/DAMIR SAGOLJ
After forcing almost a million Rohingyas to flee from their homes and take shelter in Bangladesh, Myanmar is now taking steps to construct a concrete structure in the no-man’s land on its border with Bangladesh in Bandarban’s Ghumdhum area.
The structure, when completed, will cause flooding and displace the 6,000 or so Rohingyas who have been living there since August 2017. They will be forced to cross into Bangladesh. Conversely, the structure could also serve as an advance post for the Myanmar army to patrol the area and one that will have security ramifications for Bangladesh. The fact that the construction of any structure in a no-man’s land is a direct violation of international law appears to have no bearing on the Myanmar authorities.
It is not so much what Bangladesh will do, but what the global champions of human rights and the international community will do in response—that is the question. The law is black and white on the issue. It states that no construction can be done within 150 yards on either side of the border unless a bilateral agreement to that effect exists between the two nations. To the best of our knowledge, Bangladesh has made no such deal with Myanmar.
Now that the Myanmar government is actively taking steps to build a structure that is in contravention of international law, and one which will be used to physically evict the few thousand Rohingyas stranded in no-man’s land, the international community cannot sit by and do nothing. Because if no pressure is brought upon Myanmar to stop this construction, it will mean giving the regime carte blanche to act as it pleases in the future when it comes to Rohingyas or any other ethnic minority in that country.