Rohingyas can be Repatriated as Human Resources -Wahidul Islam and Nazmus Sakib
With the death of around six crore people of 37 nations the World War II ended but it’s legacy is far from being over particularly in Myanmar. The legacy of enmity, distrust and division planted during 1942 between the Arakan Muslims and Buddhists is yielding. To ward off the Japanese invasion along the border of British India it all started with the creation of V force recruiting Rohingyas for reconnaissance purposes when the war was going on. During British rule in India Japanese attack was feared along the 1200 km frontier, stretching between the Himalays and the Bay of Bengal. The Rohingyas and Buddhists, who seemingly sided with fellow-religious Japanese, are pitched against each other. Over the years this Muslim minority group was left disadvantaged, failing to integrate with the majority linguistically, socially and culturally. So Rohingyas are being inflicted with arbitrary murder, arson, rape etc albeit in collusion with Myanmar Army.
On October 9, 2016 three Myanmar police stations were reported to be attacked simultaneously near Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships close to the border with Bangladesh, killing nine policemen. The police also claimed that assailants looted more than 50 guns and thousands of bullets from the guard posts, police said. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the government, providing little proof immediately blamed one little-known groups ‘AqaMul Mujahidin’ (AKM), which is suspected to be an offshoot of the defunct Rohingya Solidarity Organization. The RSO has been blamed by the government for other attacks in recent years but observers believe it has been dormant for sometimes.
Cashing in on this excuse, the military of Myanmar has created a 20 kilometer-square “operation zone” barring all independent journalists from the area. Despite the restrictions, numerous reports have emerged of rapes, torture, and extrajudicial killings of Rohingya civilians by the police and army as they sweep through villages in search of militants. A recent escalation in the latest violence has raised the official death toll since the October crackdown to 134, although Rohingya advocacy groups put it at more than 420.
Despite Bangladesh’s refusal to take refugees, several hundred are believed to have fled to camps there. A number who crossed the Naf River separating the two countries in the middle of November were gunned down mid-river. While a number of security personnel have been killed in skirmishes, the overwhelming majority of deaths have been Rohingya. The government has claimed that all are militants, but with independent media completely barred from the region, the claims have been impossible to verify. The blanket exclusion of independent journalists from the area in recent weeks has created a black hole in which security forces can attack villages, carry out arbitrary arrests, and block the movements of Rohingya, who are unable to leave their homes to access markets or to reach medical care. Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch shows that 1,250 Rohingya buildings in five villages have been destroyed by recent arson attacks.
The history of Arakan is divided into the Dhanyawadi, Waithali, Laymro and Mrauk U. Mrauk U is also the capital of Mrauk-U Township, a sub region of the Mrauk-U District. It was the capital of Mrauk U Kingdom, the most important and powerful Rakhine (Arakanese) kingdom, from 1430 to 1785. It was established in 1433, King Min Saw Mon. The city eventually reached a size of 160,000 in the early seventeenth century. During this time Qazi is believed to be the first Bengali poet to write under the patronage of the Arakan court. His patron Ashraf Khan was a commanding officer of king Shrisudharma (Thirithudhamma), who ruled from 1622 to 1638. Ashraf Khan asked Daulat to render the Avadhi narratives of Lor, Chandrani and Mayana into Bengali. It was completed years later by Alaol whose reputation as a poet spread later. His talent was first recognised by Solaiman, a minister of King Shrichondro Sudhormo (Sanda Thudhamma) of the Mrauk-U dynasty of Arakan. Mrauk U served as the capital of the Mrauk U kingdom and its 49 kings till the conquest of the kingdom by the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty in 1784. In 1824, the first Anglo-Burmese war erupted and in 1826, Rakhine was ceded to the British as reparation by the Burmese to the British. Rakhine thus became part of the province of Burma of British India. In 1948, Burma was given independence and Rakhine became part (colony) of the new federal republic. Due to planted enmity between the Buddhist majority and minority Rohingyas the chasm broadened over the years after 1942 when V force was formed. When army came to power the Rohingyas started losing their human rights of all sorts including citizenship. Now they have no right to stay in this world, they have no security. Their only fault is that they are born as Rohingya. The UN says that Rohingya Muslims are the most oppressed population in the world. Their plight even can’t be covered by independent media.
Media under attack
So far as we know neither Rohingyas nor any Muslim representation in the mainstream media in Myanmar. Even Bangladeshi print and electronic media have no Rohingya correspondents though a good number of the media outlets have correspondents in another neighbouring country in India. So in the age of media-gagging in Myanmar a few journalists who wrote on Rohingyas were under pressure. Fiona MacGregor and Min Min are two of them. MacGregor worked at the English-language Myanmar Times said she was dismissed for an article she wrote on allegations of rape by security forces following government pressure on the newspaper. Former special investigations editor Fiona MacGregor had been reporting on Rakhine state, much of which is under military lockdown following deadly attacks last month on police, who have blamed Muslim Rohingya insurgents. Min Min, chief editor and general manager of the online Root Investigative Agency, a collective of local freelance journalists based in Sittwe, told reporters that a bomb exploded at his home in the late evening of March 10. On March 16, 2016 the Committee to Protect Journalists calls for an independent, high-level investigation into the bombing of a journalist’s home in western Myanmar and for the perpetrators to be swiftly identified and brought to justice.
Protest around the world
Demonstrators in their thousands in Bangladesh and other Asian countries took to the streets in protest at what is turning out to be genocide of minority Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar army. In Bangladesh, protesters asked its government to open border to the Rohingyas fleeing the military persecution as demonstrators in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand rallied in front of the embassies of Myanmar crying out their anguish at the ethnic cleansing in the country’s northern Rakhine state. From the demonstrations came the call for unity among Islamic countries to protect Muslims against persecution as the incumbent world leaders, including the UN, failed to deliver its duty in protecting Rohingyas. The Malaysian cabinet has condemned the violence by issuing a strong criticism of the Myanmar government for failing to protect the Rohingyas. In Kuala Lampur, Malaysian marchers braved downpour to denounce the persecution.
In Dhaka, demonstrators torched an effigy of Myanmar’s de-facto leader Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, venting their anger against her silence over the persecution being carried out by none other than her military. They chanted ‘Stop Genocide’ and ‘Build Muslim unity and free the Rakhine state from the grip of Myanmar.’
In Chittagong, more than five thousand Hefazat activists brought out a procession from city’s Andarkilla Shahi Jame Mosque after the jumma prayers and it ended at Cheragi Pahar, protesting at the atrocities on the Rohingyas.
In Jakarta, demonstrators from Indonesian Islamic organisations held protests outside Myanmar’s embassy, AFP reports.
Chanting ‘Allahu Akbar (God is greater!), they called for the government of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to sever diplomatic ties with Myanmar.
Muslim-majority Malaysia’s cabinet also issued a statement condemning the violence, an unusually strong criticism against a fellow member of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations, AFP reports.
Even in military-ruled Thailand, where demonstrations related to domestic affairs are banned, protestors were able to gather on Nov. 25 outside the Myanmar embassy in the capital, Bangkok.
Call for stripping off Nobel Prize of Suu Kyi
The government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has responded by saying that the Rohingya are burning their own homes to garner international sympathy. The argument is as old as the army dictatorship itself. But they are the native of Myanmar living there for generations. The recent overweening news from ministry of religious affairs and culture of Myanmar government is that they are going to write their new history book excluding Rohingya. Protesting at the silence of Suu Kyi the demonstrators are demanding the Swedish Nobel Academy to strip off her Nobel Peace Prize which was awarded to her in 1991.
ASEAN policy is a block in addressing Rohingya issue
Non-interference in what is deemed the sovereign affairs of member countries has long been an ASEAN maxim — meaning that human rights abuses have usually been overlooked by the bloc. But some politicians in Southeast Asia want ASEAN to do more. In a recent statement by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Charles Santiago, a Malaysian opposition lawmaker, said that the bloc’s members “must remember that what happens in Rakhine State affects more than just Myanmar,” adding that the violence is not “an internal affair, but a situation with clear regional implications.”
Bangladesh bears the
According to the UN, about 30,000 Rohingyas have been displaced by the atrocity by the military which launched its drive after an alleged insurgent attack on the country’s border outpost killed security officers. After putting the northern state under lockdown, the Myanmar government restricted movements of journalists to the area. It has rejected allegations of genocide by insisting that Rohingyas were setting their houses on fire for international attention. Rohingyas are denied citizenship and subject to harsh restrictions in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where many view them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, though many have lived in Myanmar for generations. The UN refugee agency says well over 120,000 have fled Rakhine since a previous bout of bloody unrest in 2012, many braving a perilous sea journey to Malaysia. Last year, thousands were stranded at sea after a well-worn trafficking route through Thailand collapsed following a police crackdown sparked by the discovery of brutal human-trafficking camps along the Malaysia border.
When does the international community intervene?
Following the Rwandan genocide the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001 introduced R2P as a principle in their report “The Responsibility to Protect.” The commitment is outlined in paragraph 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. R2P was officially referred to by the Security Council for the first time in 2006 in Resolution 1674 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and Resolution 1706 on Darfur. In 2009, Secretary-General Mr. Ban-Ki Moon released a report clarifying the understanding of R2P and outlining measures for moving the norm from theory to practice. At the General Assembly Debate in 2009, 92 governments spoke to demonstrate their continued commitment to R2P. Governments confirm their consideration of the SG’s report on implementing R2P and recognized the importance of civil society in doing so.
Possible Way Out
Bangladesh can contemplate on teach the Rohingya refugees English language properly keeping them in refugee camps irrespective of age group. The government of Bangladesh can impose on the shelter seekers to learn English compulsorily. If possible they can be forced to learn Myanmar language and their national curriculum, albeit with the cooperation of Myanmar government, so that the prospect repatriation keeps open in future. With the help of Myanmar people Islamic books taught in madrassahs can be translated into Myanmar language so that they can learn Myanmar culture and contribute to their own nation. They can be trained in different technical trades that Myanmar needs now and has huge potential. If the Rohingyas are turned into human resources the Myanmar may be interested to get them back. Bangladeshi universities can offer some journalism scholarships for Myanmar students particularly Rohingyas so that they can make positions in Myanmar media. Malaysia can adopt the identical initiatives to turn the Rohingyas into manpower what Myanmar needs now as it is trying to democratize the country. Malaysia can initiate a series of regional dialogues and conferences accommodating ASEAN, China and Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.
International community can act to introduce autonomous government in northern Arakan for this most oppressive one. To handle them properly the Myanmar authorities should come forward with help so the victims can overcome their financial losses and mental trauma. Only sending them food, medicine, and giving them shelter to the refugees doesn’t make any sense and creates no potential. The country one lives in must know the language of the sons of the soil along with international and technological one.