10 April, 2019 11:17:20 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 April, 2019 11:29:00 AM
Return of Rohingyas essential
The humiliated and persecuted Rohingyas have been pushed into neighbouring Bangladesh since long past. But this time the scale of the influx of the oppressed Rohingyas in Bangladesh surpassed all previous records
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Return of Rohingyas essential
The Rohingyas in Myanmar as a minority community of the country have been subjected to inhuman persecution for decades together. Now the forcefully expelled humiliated and ruthlessly tortured Rohingyas from Myanmar that has taken shelter to the neighbouring Bangladesh total around 1.1 million including the previously expelled ones. This is because of the direly aggravated human rights and humanitarian situation of the Rohingyas there in the Muslim dominated Rakhine State of Myanmar. Of those who have very painfully managed to reach Bangladesh, almost all of them have left behind near and dear ones mercilessly killed by the Myanmar military and majority mobs. By now the entire world has learned it and many responsible persons including the Secretary General of the United Nations has come to see the plight of the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
The humiliated and persecuted Rohingyas has been pushed into neighbouring Bangladesh since long past. But this time the scale of the influx of the oppressed Rohingyas in Bangladesh surpassed all previous records. As a result the International decision-makers, members States of the United Nations (UN) and NGOs have now a moral and ethical responsibility to stand in solidarity with the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, as they do in the case of other persecuted and rights less people elsewhere in the world.
The sufferings and agonies of the Rohingyas subjected to this time and as have been focused in the global print and electronic media, have already stirred the conscience of the world community. The global call for establishing peace, solidarity and justice in Myanmar, guided by the principles of justice and human solidarity, was heard on 5 December 2017 in a special session convened at the United Nations Office (UNO) in Geneva. The special session in the UNO in Geneva emphasised on the urgency to identify a common platform to end the atrocities committed on the Rohingya people by the Myanmar’s military and majority mobs. In consequence, the world society can respond with a unified voice to address the plight of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State and in Bangladesh refugee camps only through joint action and human solidarity.
The world society must keep its gear continually high in calling for peace and social justice in Myanmar, although the holding of the special session in UNO in Geneva on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslim population and other minorities in the Rakhine Sate of Myanmar reached its objective. Considering the gravity of the issue, if the international community limits its action to only include the adoption of resolutions and declarations in support of the Rohingya people, our efforts to address the situation in Myanmar will be in vain. Endemic poverty, violence, apartheid and stark inequalities still remain high in Rakhine State. Those issues need also to be practically and justifiably solved with urgency; only then convening of such international session in UNO in Geneva and the like will be meaningful. The miserable Rohingya people certainly deserve world’s sympathetic attention and care so that they may return home with honour, dignity and rights. We all hope, though it is becoming a difficult hope as days pass by, the unfortunate Rohingya refugees will willfully start to return to their home societies as envisaged in the ‘Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’ signed on 23 November 2017 between Bangladesh and Myanmar. This ‘Arrangement’ presupposes that it will become safe for the Rohingyas to return to the place they have been inhumanly and forcefully driven out from. After return the entire main task will lie in rebuilding a safe, stable and inclusive society for all in Myanmar.
The Rohingya people along with other minorities in Rakhine State, after their return, must be allowed to enjoy full and unconditional equal legal protection and fundamental freedoms such as right to free movement, right to education, right to jobs and all sorts of human rights in their entirety. To this end the government of Myanmar must review and revoke the 1982 Citizenship law that degrades the status of the Rohingya people and other minorities to second-class citizens. To be practical, it has to be justifiably ensured that all the citizens of Myanmar are entitled to enjoy equal and inclusive citizenship rights and privileges. Only then this ‘Arrangement’ will bear meaning. It is in no way honouble that the Rohingyas will be placed in Myanmar built concentration camps after return – they must get back their land and home together with compensations for the harassment suffered, and all sorts of citizenship rights and privileges so that they need not flee from Myanmar in the future again.
Moreover, for justice and lasting peace in the Rakhine State and to console the physically and mentally hurt Rohingyas it is necessary that the perpetrators of crimes against humanity be brought to book and punished. It is to be understood that the issue is the creation of Myanmar itself and the responsibility of generating trust of Rohingyas on the Myanmar authority, by pacifying and consoling them, lies also on Myanmar. In the true sense of the term, strengthening accountability and transitional justice in post-conflict Myanmar, honestly and justifiably, are imperative to end impunity and bring peace and stability to the region. If the Myanmar authority fails to do those on its own, the responsibility automatically lies on the international community and the UN to look after that.
Myanmar must take its future into its own hands and address responsibly all human rights concerns deriving from the current situation in Rakhine State for its own safety, honour and dignity. Decision-makers in Myanmar must remain committed to developing a peaceful and inclusive society in which the Rohingya people and other minorities are considered as integral components of the Myanmar society. Otherwise there will remain no other option but to liberating the Rakhine State for the Stateless Rohingyas by the UN peace keeping forces, a place where their ancestors lived for generations. In the meanwhile, the international community must continue to assist the victims to ensure their livelihoods and assist Bangladesh to enable it to be in a position to provide them with decent shelter and living.