The global community needs to wake up and see this fast-approaching reality
Political leaders are probing very little to restrain the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide and rather continue investing time and resources to handle the after-effects. Are we becoming blinded by our fallacy-biased dreams of expansion to ignore the safety of millions of civilians in Myanmar?
This has become another failed diplomacy that began with affirmations of the urgency for peace, with little to no input from the actual victims of such conflict, a common tactical mistake responsible for all passive management of crises.
I recently attended a week-long workshop at UC Berkeley Law School, jointly arranged by the Human Rights Center of UC Berkeley and Netherlands-based Institute of International Criminal Investigation (IICI) and concluded that there is a sincere global interest in Rohingya refugees.
Various open source resources including satellite photos have been useful to forecast the grave dangers these two nations are heading towards. I am going to explain a surprising prediction of this conflict with an inclination of seriousness to prevent this conflict in becoming a full blown war.
I am projecting that Myanmar is preparing for a war against Bangladesh. Myanmar military has over 400,000 active duty members compared to 200,000 duty members in Bangladesh, a country with more than three times the population of Myanmar. Myanmar’s military building at the Bangladesh border is visible through open public satellite views like Google Earth.
Bangladeshi military has a good reputation in global peace missions, but has never been known for any aggression. On the other side, Myanmar’s military has brutally ruled the country for over four decades and so far the savage attacks on Rohingya have been a tactical win for the military junta.
The most concerned group here is the Rohingya population, who deserve an honest look through human lenses, and an immediate end to their sufferings. Hence, I am segregating three groups other than the Rohingya who should not ignore possibilities from an imminent war if Myanmar attacks Bangladesh.
• Bangladesh will have an uprising in militarization, undercutting the critical investment in education and health sectors
• Bangladesh brought the country’s extensive gang-related violence relatively under control, which in a war situation will rise again in the disguise of militias fighting Myanmar
• The general population will start sympathizing with pro-Islamic political parties reacting to the Muslim minorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Religious minorities in Bangladesh will be facing backlash as they have had during such crisis in the past. The secular government of Bangladesh may even get toppled by an inevitable uprise of Islamic extremism
• Foreign investments in Bangladesh may become diverted to potentially safer countries
• The military leaders of Myanmar will most likely get away with all of their wrong-doings as they have been for over four decades. They will enjoy the economic incentives tied with importing weapons used to fight Bangladesh
• The possibilities of democracy that once was with Aung San Suu Kyi have already faded with her infamous standings on the Rohingya genocide, but the harm is going to be a lot deeper as it will be a proof to the Burmese people that democracy hasn’t been worth fighting for
• Major military build-up will divert Myanmar from its economic potential. Despite various embargoes on weapon importing, Myanmar seems to be finding it as a means to have international allies at the cost of its civilians’ pockets
• Economic sanctions may come back in place against Myanmar and its citizens will be once again deprived from the opportunities of global progress in education and technology
• Globally, its reputation will continue to be destroyed
• The global community must be aware that hundreds of thousands of lives will perish in a war outbreak between these two countries whose combined population is almost 220 million
• The border zone between these two countries is one of the greenest parts of South Asia, and the home of over 4000 elephants. A war can eradicate them along with many other vulnerable animals
• Significant ocean pollution will cost irreversible damage to the marine life including precious coral reefs on the Indian Ocean
• Possible wildfire from the war can wipe out thousands of acres of forest walling that protect human habitats from deadly cyclones of the Bay of Bengal
Ensuring human rights for all is a pre-condition to democracy, but democracy itself may not always protect human rights for all. This gap is the result of our inability to visualize the grim consequences from human rights violations.
The human losses will get marked as one of the most avoidable failures of the so-called global political leadership of our modern time. Unfortunately, the Rohingya genocide took place right after Washington solidified its diplomatic relationships with Myanmar in 2012, a year sadly known more for the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Perhaps Washington’s rushed confidence in Myanmar’s leadership became the catalyst to allowing their reckless aggression -- military junta had already been backed by China and Russia.
These superpowers ironically either supplied weapons to the Myanmar military, or looked away from a clearly predictable and preventable humanitarian disaster.
Only the global community which cares for human rights and environmental well-being now can take the right steps by demanding that their governments explain why they have done such a lousy job, and pressure them to securely get the Rohingya back home to their homeland, and in the process, disarm Myanmar.
Mazher Mir is Investment Director, Roybi Robots in Silicon Valley, California.
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