Expressing anger over the cosy relationship that Bangladesh is enjoying with India and China, the analysts and former diplomats called for them to play important roles to help achieve a durable solution to the ongoing crisis
The Bangladesh government and international community must convince China to resolve the Rohingya crisis, heavyweight speakers at a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) round table in Dhaka urged on Thursday.
The former diplomats and analysts also expressed their anger over the relationship that Bangladesh is enjoying with India and China, while predicting problems for the regional superpowers if they allowed the crisis to linger.
“It is yet to be clear whether Bangladesh government wants to solve the crisis bilaterally or multilaterally,” the former foreign secretary Mohiuddin Ahmed told the ‘Durable solution for Rohingya crisis’ event held at NHRC premises in Karwan Bazar.
"China is putting extreme pressure to resolve the crisis bilaterally. Are we going to listen to China or we will approach multilaterally? Until China is there, Myanmar has nothing to worry about.”
Mohiuddin said China had become a “trusted friend” of Bangladesh over the years, despite it having supplied arms to Pakistan during War of Liberation in 1971.
The former diplomat also cited a report from January 2018 which he said showed that the engineering, procurement and construction contract volume of Chinese companies in the first 10 months of 2017 increased by 24% to $6.4 billion.
“The Chinese companies are getting most of the big contracts but no one can say any word even if they failed to meet deadlines of the construction work,” he said.
The former election commissioner, Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain, also said the long arm of Chinese infrastructural support might take some twisting.
"We must convince China, but to convince China is a very difficult task as it has invested more money for a deep sea port in Myanmar," he said.
Sakhawat, also a researcher of national security and defense, warned of the potential destabilising effect of allowing the crisis to continue unchecked.
"If this problem is not resolved within 10 years, this area will be some sort of proxy table field,” he said.
“None of us know how the crisis will be solved. Myanmar is not going to resolve it unless it’s forced; they are not going to listen.
“This is the long drawn program that Myanmar chalked out. Myanmar is fighting against several dozens of outfits and one of them is Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which is a poor organization.”
NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque also criticized the role of China, and said one fourth of the total imports of Bangladesh are now coming from the country.
He also demanded sterner action to tackle the deliberate spreading of misinformation on the issue.
“I urge Bangladesh's foreign ministry to raise a strong voice against the propaganda which is being spread by Myanmar on the Rohingya crisis,” he said.
“The ministry also has to consider how we can approach going to the International Criminal Court over this issue."
On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a strong pitch for bringing those involved in the violence against the Rohingyas to account.
During a lecture on “Global Challenges, Global Solutions” in New Delhi, Guterres said India can help tackle the crisis by backing Bangladesh in humanitarian assistance and using its influence in Myanmar to bring about reconciliation.
On Thursday, former foreign minister Mohiuddin said the UN chief has to persuade Indian prime minister Narendra Modi over the crisis. “It is assumed that our friendly neighbour [India] never pays heed to our calls,” he said.
Retired Bangladeshi envoy to China Azizul Hoque suggested harnessing the judicial scope of the International Criminal Court to bring a durable solution in Rohingya crisis.
Other contributors to Thursday’s program included former Bangladeshi ambassador Muhammad Zamir and journalist Mizanur Rahman Khan.