Editorial > Opinion > Cartoon
The world must stop Myanmar’s fresh Rohingya move
Published: 00:00, Sep 05,2019 | Updated: 00:50, Sep 05,2019
AUTHORITIES reported to be forcing the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar at gunpoint to accept identity cards that categorise them as foreigners, stripping them of the chance to become citizens, certainly gives reasons for Bangladesh authorities and the world for concerns. Myanmar appears to have systematically stripped the minority Rohingyas, living mostly in Arakan, of their citizenship by way of the implementation of the 1982 Burmese Citizenship Law that has not categorised the Rohingyas as one of the 135 legally recognised ethnic groups of Myanmar.
The Myanmar authorities in their ploy that seems to have dated much before the implementation of the law had begun repression on and persecution of the Rohingyas, forcing them to begin fleeing torture and violence to Bangladesh as early as the late 1970s. After more than 400,000 Rohingyas having already left Myanmar for Bangladesh by the middle of 2017, the largest of the Rohingya influx began taking place in August that year, when a large-scale military crackdown and spate of violence began in Rakhine State against them. The influx since then has taken the total number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh to more than 1.1 million in all — more than 700,000 of them since 2017 — now sheltered in camps mostly in Cox’s Bazar.
After much hullabaloo and phases of confusion mostly created by the Myanmar authorities through falsehood to deflect world pressure, arrangements were made for the repatriation of the Rohingyas. But efforts to repatriate the Rohingyas since August 2017 have faltered twice — in recent times on August 22, 2019 and earlier on November 15, 2018 — mostly because Myanmar kept creating a fearful situation for the Rohingyas in Rakhine State. The repatriation is to be safe, sustainable, dignified and voluntary but no one from the Rohingyas was willing to get back to Rakhine. The unwillingness appears to have stemmed from the torture and persecution — violence, rape, arson attack, unbridled murder and restrictions on movement and livelihood — that they faced at the hands of Myanmar’s military.
Now that Myanmar is reported to be forcing the Rohingyas living there at gunpoint or through torture to accept the national verification cards, which ‘effectively identify them as foreigners’, is reflective of attempts at destroying the Rohingya people through an administrative process. Myanmar is also reported to have imposed restrictions on the Rohingya’s freedom of movement in the context of the verification card process. Such activities in turn would have serious implications for the prospects of the repatriation of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh, thwarting any repatriation initiatives in view of no security and citizenship for them in Myanmar. What is still happening centring on the Rohingyas in Myanmar appears to be a fresh ploy to frustrate any efforts for the repatriation of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh authorities must, in a situation like this, take up the issue with regional and international forums, especially the United Nations, the forum of world leaders, and effectively impress on them to stop Myanmar from creating any fearful situation that could thwart Rohingya repatriation. Bangladesh authorities must also remain prepared against any probable untoward incident arising out Myanmar’s fresh ploy.