With the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state worsening with every passing minute, Bangladesh has shown the world what true compassion looks like by providing shelter to the hundreds of thousands fleeing persecution.
This has been in no small measure due to the leadership shown by our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, putting politics and bureaucratic ramifications aside and embracing the spirit of humanity upon which Bangladesh was founded.
The statesmanship she has shown during this crisis has impressed the world and has not only helped focus global attention on the plight of the Rohingya, but also served as an abject lesson for the international community on how to fulfill its obligations towards a people in such dire need.
With that in mind, the PM’s visit to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly is potentially pivotal.
It is the perfect stage for the PM to make our case to the world, that while Bangladesh is doing what it can to ease the suffering of the Rohingya, that we cannot do it alone, and that the crisis requires the intervention of the international community.
The assistance that the Bangladeshi government and people have already extended towards the Rohingya gives the PM the moral capital she needs to persuade the rest of the world to join us in doing the right thing.
What is going on in Myanmar is unconscionable. As the UN high commissioner for human rights has stated, it appears to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
It is not enough for the world to simply issue hollow condemnations and urge the Myanmar army and government to show restraint.
No. The carnage in Rakhine state and the humanitarian catastrophe that Bangladesh is doing its level best to stanch, needs to be addressed by action, not words.
At the very least there must be sanctions placed on Myanmar so that it cannot continue to ethnically cleanse its own people without consequence. Myanmar must put an end to the pogrom and create the conditions necessary for their displaced nationals to return to live in safety and security. And UN intervention to ensure that these steps are taken should not be off the table.
This is the case that needs to be made to the UN, and we are confident, not only that the PM is the right woman for the job, but that, given her record of action over the past three weeks, that her words will be listened to with respect.