Sittwe to Jerusalem via Dhaka -Wahidul Islam

When a nation weakens it weakens nationally and as a logical consequence it fails internationally to stand out plausibly. In the way around in this global village if a nation grows internationally viz. contributing to UN peacekeeping forces, exporting manpower, goods and services, it can grow nationally. This is especially true of deltaic land Bangladesh — a country burdened with providing a large number of unemployed youth, a lion share of who are either half-educated or technically unaccomplished as plenty of them are trained in taught humanist courses or subjects belonging to arts cheaply available at hands in most of the colleges and universities. It is also true of a poverty-stricken country which has to send their manpower abroad to earn remittance. Even the female citizens have to go abroad for work when they are ignorant about the languages, culture and traditions of the countries of their arrival. In this global village Bangladesh makes friendship on the basis of region, proximity, brotherhood, like-mindedness and religiosity. After the independence Bangladesh joined UN on 17 September 1974, Organisation Islamic Cooperation in the same year, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) in 24 May 1997, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal (BIMSTEC) June 6, 1997. It kicked off regional cooperation like South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation on December 8, 1985. Bangladesh is member of other international Bangladesh– China– India– Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) which came into being in 1999 in Kunming, China. Bangladesh is also a member of Non Aligned Movement (NAM). D-8 and Like Minded Group are two of the platforms which were more or less successful.


United Nations has six organs to deliver and United Nations General Assembly is one of them. It holds regular sessions and in addition to that the assembly may meet in special and emergency sessions. Over the years, the Assembly has convened 27 special sessions on issues that demanded particular attention, including the question of Palestine, United Nations finances, Namibia, disarmament, international economic cooperation, apartheid, drugs, the environment, population, women, social development, human settlements and HIV/AIDS. The twenty-seventh special session of the General Assembly, held from 8 to 10 May 2002, was devoted to children.

Emergency special sessions that have addressed situations, in which the Security Council found it deadlocked, include:
1. The Middle East (1958)
2. The Middle East (1967)
3. Hungary (1956)
4. Suez (1956)
5. The Congo (1960)
6. Afghanistan (1980)
7. Palestine (1980)
8. Palestine 1982)
9. Namibia (1981)
10. The occupied Arab territories (1982)
11. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (1997)
12. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (1998)
13. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (1999)
14. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2000)
15. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2001)
16. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2002)
17. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2003)
18. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2004)
19. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2007)
20. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2007)
21. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (2009)
22. Illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian Territory (December 21, 2017)

Apart from that the UNGA also convenes emergency special session and has at least 10 sessions so far.
On Palestine dozens of special and emergency sessions at UNGA were held but Israel paid little heed to those resolutions again and again, thanks to the patronage of the US. Identically Myanmar, powered by China, India and Russia, dares to defy UN resolutions against ethnic cleansing of its Rohingya minorities in the Rakhine state. On November 16, 2017 UN members urged Myanmar authorities to end military atrocities against the Muslim Rohingya in a resolution adopted. The General Assembly’s human rights committee overwhelmingly endorsed the measure presented by Muslim countries by a vote of 135 to 10, with 26 countries abstaining. UN member-states said they were “highly alarmed” by the violence and “further alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by the Myanmar forces” against the Rohingya Muslims. The resolution drafted by the OIC called on the government to allow access for aid workers, ensure the return of all refugees and grant full citizenship rights to the Rohingya.
It requested that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoint a special envoy to Myanmar who later was banned by the apartheid giving a thumb down to the UN. Aside from Russia and China, Cambodia, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam voted against the measure as did Syria, Zimbabwe and Belarus, along with Myanmar. The non-binding measure then went to the full assembly for debate. Nearly 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military operation was launched in Rakhine in late August. In the build up to the ethnic cleansing the houses of Rohingyas were raided for confiscating household articles like knife, sickle, etc and even the kitchen articles long before August 25. On top of all Myanmar mobilized its army in Rakhine in January 2017. So diplomats claim August 25 attack by ARSA is simply a stage-managed ploy orchestrated by Myanmar itself though the country insists the campaign was aimed at rooting out Rohingya militants. The United Nations has said the violence amounted to ethnic cleansing.
When OIC initiated a move to address the Rohingya issue none of the BBIN member states except Bangladesh came up to support the cause. BIMSTEC member-states also failed to support Bangladesh’s cause in United Nations’ General Assembly on Rohingya issue. Among the SAARC nations Pakistan, a country most despised by the Awami League, came forward to help Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina most on Rohingya issue.
D-8 group members were very positive as international bloc for Rohingya and Jerusalem issues as its members — Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey — voted in the UNGA move on Rohingya and Jerusalem issues. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came forward to commend D-8 countries which whole heartedly voted on Rohingya issue at UNGA. She particularly praised Nigeria and Turkey for the latter country’s first lady, Emine Erdo?an, visited Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar first on September 7. In fact internationally she made it to the media by visiting the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar within half a month of the Myanmar military crackdown in collusion with the country’s de facto civilian leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi.


In United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) Bangladesh sought support from India, Bolivia, Congo, Burundi, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Venezuela, Brazil, China, Cuba, South Africa and the Philippines but all went in vain. In order to get such a special session of UNHRC, support of one third of the 47 HRC members for the request is required and Bangladesh has so far received support from 33 member states — Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America. Conspicuously over 50 percent countries supported Bangladesh were non-Muslim majority countries including UK, US.

Addressing the committee, Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi said the resolution backed a solution that recognizes the “legitimate rights of Muslim citizens” in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s Ambassador Hau Do Suan said his government was “making positive efforts to ease the situation” in Rakhine state, which he said was now “stable.”
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council agreed on a statement calling on Myanmar to “ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine state.”
Britain and France had initially proposed that the council adopted a formal resolution on Myanmar but China opposed such a move.
Human Rights Watch said the vote sent “a strong message to Myanmar that the world will not stand by while it’s military engages in ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya”, reports AFP.
Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor praised Deputy Minister of Media Affairs of the Ministry of Culture and Information of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz Bin Salamah for their support to Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.
After Rohingya crisis US President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off funding, the United Nations overwhelmingly approved a motion rejecting the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 193-member General Assembly adopted the motion by 128 to nine with 35 abstentions; in what Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour called a “massive setback” for the United States. He said, “The administration made the issue about them— not about Israel… They used unprecedented tactics… including blackmail and extortion.” Bangladesh co-sponsored the resolution and voted for the motion.
After the voting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “The world is bigger than five and much bigger than one.”
Speaking ahead of the emergency session, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned the General Assembly that the United States “will remember this day.”
Ahead of the vote, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the UN as a “house of lies,” saying Israel “rejects outright this vote, even before it passes.”
“No General Assembly resolution will ever drive us from Jerusalem,” vowed Danny Danon, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations.
Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki called the vote an “unprecedented test” for the UN, and referenced the US warning that it was “taking names.”
“History records names, it remembers names — the names of those who stand by what is right and the names of those who speak falsehood,” al-Malki said. “Today we are seekers of rights and peace.”
Trump’s decision on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital prompted a flurry of appeals to the United Nations.
The status of the Holy City is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with both sides claiming it as their capital.
Trump warned that Washington would closely watch how nations voted, suggesting, like Haley, there could be financial reprisals for those that back the motion put forward by Yemen and Turkey on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump said at the White House.
“Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
Among the coward countries that abstained were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Romania and Rwanda.
China played a dual role while backing up the Myanmar army, equipping, emboldening and finally guarding the latter’s onslaught on Rohingya minorities in the international fora, supported the Palestine’s cause denouncing the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the US president Donald Trump. Identically India toed the line of China of saying ‘yes’ Myanmar soldiers’ and Buddhist mob’s rape, arson, atrocities on Rohingya minorities and ‘no’ to Trump’s move to move US embassy to Jerusalem which he declared as the capital of Israel. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “China firmly supports and advances the Middle East peace process. We support the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national right. And stand behind Palestine in building an independent full sovereignty state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”


The political landscapes are quickly shifting particularly those of the Muslim world. Seemingly a new middle east is in the making. One crisis is following another rapidly. Bangladesh is facing daunting task of managing its problems which are equally complicated by the Rohingya influx and the US declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The incident prompted anger across Asian cities. The Rohingya people had once a country of their own but now they are homeless, stateless, having no shelter, food, treatment and even regional support. International and regional organizations like BBIN, BIMSTEC, BCIM and the SAARC failed to mobilize leverage. None of the non-Muslim members of the SAARC voted in favour of Bangladesh on Rohingya issue. Not only the aforesaid organizations but also the whole world is said to have failed in its response. Speaking to the Guardian on a visit to the rapidly expanding refugee camps in the Bangladeshi port town of Cox’s Bazar, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, said a political solution was needed and called for all leaders “without exception” to take the situation seriously. Bangladesh has learned a lot from the recent international incidents.

Bangladesh’s recent move, to shift the centre of gravity from Muslim countries to non-Muslim countries, has proved at least partially wrong in the international politics. To this end the country has even amended its’ constitution. Around one crore Bangladeshis are working in as many in different countries particularly in the Middle East. Half of a crore people including men and women work in Arabic-speaking countries where Bangladeshis go to earn money without learning a language. n

You may also like...