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News Analysis: China, Russia and India at it again

  • Published at 10:29 am January 3rd, 2021
Rohingy refugees
File photo of Rohingy refugees holding placards at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, demanding justice and their safe and dignified return to Myanmar from Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh continues to fail to persuade what it describes as “very good friends” to back a just cause at the United Nations

On December 31, the last day of 2020, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on human rights violations by Myanmar against Rohingyas and others by a huge margin.

The voting record is, 130 countries in favor, 9 against and 26 countries decided to abstain.

Aside from exposing the world's negative attitude to Myanmar once again, the adopted resolution will not change anything on the ground, meaning the Rohingyas will continue to suffer as they do now. This kind of resolutions are non-binding and previous resolutions did not work in the past.

But what more significant is, the voting pattern of China, Russia and Bangladesh's first neighbour India. All these three countries, considered to be important in solving the protracted Rohingya crisis, have not backed the adopted resolution on December 31.

China and Russia, two veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, the most powerful body in the world, voted against the proposal while India, a non-permanent member of the UNSC, abstained.

The voting pattern is not new. Be it at the UNGA or Human Rights Council, the trio has been doing this ever since the Rohingya crisis unfolded. 

The government of Bangladesh describes all the three countries as not only friends, rather “very good friends”. The country's diplomacy also tends to lead the people to believe that Beijing, Moscow and Delhi are with Dhaka on one of the gravest crises the nation has ever experienced. Of course, publicly, officials of the three countries voice their support for Bangladesh.

Also Read- Nine more countries back UN resolution to condemn Myanmar

However, their words are never backed by actions. They continue to support the Myanmar much more than Bangladesh despite Dhaka's huge political and economic engagements with Beijing, Moscow and Delhi. They always prefer Myanmar, a country accused of committing genocide against the Rohingyas, over Bangladesh, a resource-constraint nation that is hosting over a million persecuted people.

China is the only country in the world with which Bangladesh has strategic partnership. Bangladesh is a very important trading partner of China. Majority of the country's military purchases comes from there.

Bangladesh is engaged with Russia over one of its largest megaprojects — the Rooppur nuclear program — that is worth billions. Dhaka also purchases weapons from Moscow significantly. Most importantly, Russia was the country's important ally during the 1971 War of Independence.

Hierarchies of Bangladesh and India sometimes say that the relationship between the two countries has already gone beyond strategic partnership. They also say that the relationship is bonded by blood.

Bangladesh has addressed India's security concerns. It’s not possible to describe multifaceted Indian engagements with Bangladesh briefly. But most of the people of the country do believe that India always gets more from Bangladesh than it gives.

Despite all of these, it appears that Bangladesh has been failing to convince the three countries to back it on a cause, a right cause. The vote on December 31 is one more example of country's apparent failed diplomacy.

Working with the international community to solve the Rohingya issue, China, Russia and India will not do any favour to Bangladesh or the Rohingyas. Rather, they will fulfil their international obligations to ensure human rights for the oppressed people. To help create a just world, the influential trio will have to rise above geopolitical and economic interests. Otherwise, they will be answerable to history.

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