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Experts: Dhaka needs to utilize growing global pressure on Myanmar

  • Published at 02:11 pm November 16th, 2019
File photo: Rohingya refugees leave after attending a demonstration at Camp No 4 (Extension) at Kutupalong's Modhurchhara in Ukhiya on August 25, 2019 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

There should be negotiations with other countries, and it will be easier for Bangladesh to talk about the issue, Prof Imtiaz Ahmed said

Foreign affairs analysts have said Bangladesh needs to utilize the growing global pressure on Myanmar until a solution to the Rohingya crisis is found.

The pressure is not only building on Myanmar, rather it is a pressure for Myanmar’s friends too who kept mum amidst questions of why other countries cannot do the same as Gambia and Argentina, one of the foreign affairs analysts said.

“The pressure on Myanmar should be there until there is a solution. I think it will not be wise for us to give up until a solution is found. We should not stop here,” Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University’s (DU) International Relations department said, reports UNB.

There should be negotiations with other countries, and it will be easier for Bangladesh to talk about the issue, he added.

Prof Imtiaz said, there are already questions around why the European Union (EU), Canada, France or other countries cannot do the same on the legal front as they talk much about human rights. 

No immediate dramatic change

“There will be no dramatic change in the situation immediately amid the last few days’ progress (on legal fronts) but it will help build pressure on Myanmar,” Prof Ali Riaz Distinguished Professor, Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, USA said.

File photo: Rohingya people line up to be interviewed for the repatriation to Myanmar outside the office of the camp-in-charge in Shalbagan refugee camp, Cox's Bazar on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

He, however, said it needs to be kept in mind that Myanmar’s friends -- China, Russia and India -- encouraged Bangladesh to go for a kind of bilateral solution to the Rohingya crisis when there were possibilities of fresh pressure on Myanmar in the past. “This is a kind of diplomatic game.”

Prof Riaz said it is absolutely necessary to take steps and extend clear support to the legal measures that are being taken internationally.

“It will go in favour of Myanmar if Bangladesh hesitates to take steps to that end fearing discord with India and China,” he mentioned.

Positive changes

Recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly conveyed to Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to resolve the crisis, said Prof Imtiaz.

Modi, during his meeting with Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the Asean-India Summit in Bangkok, conveyed the importance of "speedy, safe, and sustainable” return of Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine in the interest of the people, and regions of the three  countries -- India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also had a meeting with Suu Kyi and urged Myanmar authorities to create an environment “conducive” to the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin.

“This position of India and Japan was not there two years ago. We had waited for two years to solve it bilaterally,” Prof Imtiaz said.

The DU professor said policymakers in Bangladesh need to talk carefully and in a more guarded way as internationalization of the Rohingya issue is growing. “It will not be so easy for Myanmar to escape.”

He said, one thing is clear that the issue reaches the international level right now and this no longer remains an issue of Bangladesh and Myanmar as it is clearly understood that Myanmar is not serious about bilateral mechanism.

Possible consequences

“Obviously there will be pressure on Myanmar,” Prof Imtiaz said citing example of Argentina and Gambia which other countries might follow.

“If they look at the Argentina case, it is clear that there is no question Suu Kyi will visit there,” Prof Imtiaz said.

He also said Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and it will be difficult for Myanmar to go to the OIC countries.

On the other hand, Myanmar on Friday claimed an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is "not in accordance with international law."

Citing Myanmar’s reaction over ICC investigation, Prof Riaz said it is not surprising that Myanmar is trying to deflect the pressure by questioning the legality of it.  “But there is little doubt that the crimes committed by Myanmar fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.” 

File photo: Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017 | ReutersThe global affairs analyst said the preliminary examination of the ICC’s Prosecutor’s Office has found “a reasonable basis” for the allegations of crimes committed by Myanmar and pre-trial Judges accepted that "there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and systematic acts of violence."

Prof Riaz  said: “Myanmar cannot hide behind this so-called jurisdiction argument.”

Government remains supportive

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said, as victim of the one of the world’s most horrific genocides, Bangladesh from the very beginning of its statehood, always has been supporting the oppressed and violated people around the globe.

“The Rohingya crisis was created by Myanmar and indeed it has been a long-standing problem in Myanmar. To stop the recurrence of Rohingya persecution, exodus and bringing the perpetrators of this crisis into justice are crucially important,” he said.

To that end, Dr Momen said Bangladesh remained “supportive” to the international mechanisms currently in the process towards ensuring justice for the Rohingyas.

Bangladesh welcomed the initiative of ICC and is encouraged by the recent submission of the case by Gambia to the ICC on behalf of OIC group under the Genocide Convention 1948.

“We believe ending of the culture of impunity will bring some positive development towards the solution of the Rohingya crisis,” Dr Momen said.

Recent development on legal front

On November 14, pre-trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court authorized the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her investigation will seek to uncover the truth. “My office will now focus on ensuring the success of its independent and impartial investigation."

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi is among several top Myanmar officials named in a case filed in Argentina for crimes against Rohingya Muslims and it shows the Nobel laureate, for the first time, has been legally targeted over the crisis.

On November 11, Gambia filed a case at the United Nations’ highest court, accusing Myanmar of “genocide” in its campaign against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

Gambia, which filed the case on behalf of the OIC, asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately.”

Rohingya and Latin American human rights groups submitted the lawsuit in Argentina on Wednesday under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” a legal concept enshrined in many countries’ laws.

Bangladesh has been hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine State. 

Not a single Rohingya was repatriated over the last two years due to Myanmar’s failure to build confidence among Rohingyas and lack of conducive environment in Rakhine State, officials in Dhaka said.

Bangladesh has so far handed over names of over 100,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities for verification and subsequently expediting their repatriation efforts but Myanmar is yet to take back its nationals from Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka.

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