Bangladesh must overcome any hesitation it may have about sending its views to the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning the heinous brutality committed by the Myanmar army against the Rohingyas. It would be prudent of Bangladesh to send their views by 11 June in favour of justice, maintaining conditions of confidentiality.
It would be suicidal of Bangladesh not to submit its views to ICC. If Bangladesh fails to present these views, Myanmar will simply grab the opportunity. And the global human rights and civil rights activists will be distraught. And worst of all is that Bangladesh will lose its moral right to apply pressure for the repatriation of the over 700,000 Rohingyas languishing in refugee camps.
Previously Bangladesh had given Myanmar an upper hand by agreeing not to refer to these displaced persons as Rohingyas. Not long after this condition was agreed upon, there was a brutal crackdown on Rohingyas in the name of tackling the ARSA terrorist attack. The violence, killing and oppression forced 700,000 Rohingya people into Bangladesh.
The Myanmar government considers these Rohingyas to be Bangladeshis. While an agreement may have been signed with Bangladesh about taking the refugees back, there is no sign of the Myanmar government changing their policy which calls them Bangladeshi, or even taking any effective measure for repatriation.
It is clear that Myanmar is intentionally prevaricating. It is trying to use the agreement with Bangladesh to cover its crimes and protect itself from being tried by ICC. Bangladesh must stand up against this nefarious diplomacy.
Bangladesh needs to make to clear to Myanmar and its allies, which may include an important ally of Bangladesh, that no member of the UN, not even Bangladesh, has the right to hamper the trial or investigation of any case. So there is no scope for any hesitation in ICC’s commitment towards rehabilitation.
Bangladesh is endeavouring to try crimes against humanity. So if it does not play a role in the trial of the crimes being committed against the Rohingyas, that will raise questions about the country’s moral stance.
Concerning sending views to ICC, last Wednesday foreign minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali told the media that they were looking into what could be done. The ministry should deal with this professionally, taking the views of political parties outside of the government. In an interview with Prothom Alo English Online, Dr Kamal Hossain spoke in favour of sending Bangladesh’s opinion to ICC. He reasoned that ICC’s suo moto initiative gave Bangladesh added benefit. That is why the crisis-hit Bangladesh should give a positive nod.
Bangladesh must realise that ICC has understood that Bangladesh does not want to annoy any quarter and that is why it has given it a choice of maintaining secrecy. Bangladesh should bluntly tell ICC that the Rohingya population in Bangladesh did not come here on their own volition. They were driven here by oppression and torture.