Solution to Rohingya crisis unlikely if impunity, geopolitical appeasement continues: FM

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said there will be no sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis in near future if the defiance, impunity and geopolitical appeasement of Myanmar continues.

He said a culture of appeasement of Myanmar geopolitically through enhanced bilateral trade, investment and development assistance continues to grow while the country has done nothing to redress the rapes, gender-based violence, mass atrocities and genocide committed on its minorities that its neighbour Bangladesh diligently continues to host in temporary camps that threatens its very security and sovereignty.

Today, Dr Momen said, ensuring international justice and accountability for the Rohingya people is the call and the cry of the hour under every possible global investigative and accountability mechanism making the Rohingya crisis truly global.

“Unfortunately, be it the decisions of the UNGA, UNHRC, UNSG’s Special Envoy, the UN Security Council, the ICJ and ICC, the OIC or at the Commonwealth of nations, Myanmar manages to defy them all and gets away with it,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said a dangerous culture of impunity and defiance is thriving.

“Even the ICJ provisional measures of 29 January 2020 is not being able to guarantee Myanmar’s compliance of no more violence against Rohingyas or implementation of the critically important recommendations of the Kofi Anan or Rakhine Advisory Commission,” he said.

The Foreign Minister was addressing a virtual high-level event at the Commonwealth titled “Towards Sustainable Justice, Accountability and Returns: The Rohingya Crisis into its Fourth Year” at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK FCDO Minister, Hussein Thomasi, Special Adviser to the Justice Minister of The Gambia, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Rushnara Ali MP and Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh Masud Bin Momen took part in the event moderated by Bangladesh High Commissioner in London Saida Muna Tasneem.

Getting Burden

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar as the Rohingya crisis entered into the fourth year.

Dr Momen said to make any return of the Rohingyas to their country of origin, Myanmar in a sustainable, safe, secure and dignified manner, the most important pre-requisite is the political will and conscience of the government of Myanmar.

Historically, he said, the Myanmar government demonstrated that they are fully capable of political will and ownership to earlier Rohingya crises when they took back 200,000 of their Rohingya minority from Bangladesh recognising them as ‘Lawful Residents of Myanmar’ following the 1978 ‘operation dragon king’ induced influx.

Myanmar also took back 2,30,000 Rohingyas from Bangladesh recognising them as ‘Members of Myanmar Society’ following the 1991 ‘Operation clean and beautiful nation’ induced influx.

Bangladesh agreed to resolve the return of the Rohingyas bilaterally with its close neighbour Myanmar without involving the international community, said the Foreign Minister.

Bilateral to International

Dr Momen said the Rohingya crisis never slept and was waiting to erupt like a dormant volcano surprisingly since the democratisation of Myanmar.

In 2017, in spite of a democratic government in Myanmar, the Rohingya crisis came back in unprecedented magnitude and severity making it in UN Secretary General’s words, “one of the world’s worst humanitarian and human rights crisis” which according to the UN Fact Finding Mission was a result of ‘a pre-planned, well-coordinated state-endorsed policy aimed at ethnic-cleansing only of the Rohingya community of Myanmar with elements of Genocide”.

Bangladesh signed with Myanmar the bilateral Arrangement of Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State in November 2017 and was meticulously preparing to repatriate the Rohingyas – both the repatriation attempts in 2018 and 2019 fell through due to sustained violence in Rakhine State.

Dr Momen said the Rohingyas demanded guarantees and credible actions by the Myanmar government on their legal status, safety, security, equal rights and freedoms.

“Of course, the Myanmar government gave nil response to all of these communications,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said this was a reminder for them that bilateral arrangement on sending Rohingyas back to Myanmar was not enough.

The crisis that kept re-erupting in 1978, 1992 or 2016-17 would never find a sustainable solution unless the root causes of statelessness, systematic torture, racial discrimination and absence of rights and freedoms of the Rohingyas are urgently addressed by Myanmar and the perpetrators of mass atrocities and genocide are brought to account as a trust and confidence building measure with Rohingyas, he said adding that a dangerous culture of defiance and impunity is harbouring.

Beyond Humanitarian Response

At this critical juncture, when Bangladesh is overwhelmed and fatigued by the temporary hosting of 1.1 million Myanmar Rohingyas for the 4th year, and is finding it increasingly difficult to shoulder this colossal humanitarian burden for much longer, the world needs to stand next to Bangladesh and urgently find sustainable solutions in Myanmar, Dr Momen said.

He said Bangladesh is grateful for the generous humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya camps and vulnerable populations in Myanmar by partners such as the UK, the US, the EU and their leaders who would meet the day after tomorrow.

“I call upon them not to lose sight that prolonged humanitarian assistance to Rohingyas in temporary shelters in a foreign country cannot be part of a sustainable returns and solutions strategy or for securing the Rohingyas their right to return to their homeland in dignity and rights,” Dr Momen said.

Dr Momen particularly acknowledged the United Kingdom’s strong commitment to the Rohingya issue, their sustained humanitarian support to the Rohingya camps but more so for its consistent stance on accountability of Myanmar, including sanctions.

He said Bangladesh also highly values the pen holding role of the UK at the UN Security Council specially when the council is divided on the Rohingya issue and UK takes the lead to issue Joint statements such as that of 11 September 2020.

“We applaud the UK for keeping the Rohingya issue high on the Commonwealth’s agenda,” Dr Momen said.

He hoped that as Chair in Office of the Commonwealth the UK will explore how to utilise Commonwealths expertise in justice to provide advisory support to the ICJ’s ‘Provisional Measures’ or at least create a ‘Friends of the Gambia group’ at the Commonwealth for promoting international justice and accountability for the Rohingyas.

“We call upon CW Secretary General to work with Rwanda for the Kigali summit to do more on Rohingya and fully endorse Bangladesh Foreign Secretary’s call for the Kigali Summit to adopt a separate declaration on international justice and accountability for the Rohingya towards finding a lasting solution to this protracted crisis,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina applauds The Gambia’s emboldened role on behalf of the OIC in taking on the Rohingya case at the ICJ and getting ICJ’s provisional measures on Myanmar to end genocide and protect Rohingyas.

He acknowledged the noble decisions of leading Commonwealth member Canada and Bangladesh’s old friend the Netherlands for their intention to intervene in the Gambia v. Myanmar.

“I call upon OIC countries also members of the Commonwealth and Commonwealth countries to follow suit and support the Gambia and Canada in seeking justice for Rohingyas,” said the Foreign Minister.

Source: United News of Bangladesh