On his visit to Dhaka, the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres has spoken quite bluntly, saying the Rohingyas would have to be taken back and the crimes would have to be tried. Bangladesh must make an effort to accelerate voluntary repatriation through bilateral forum. It must also involve itself in multilateral forums to bring together the international community and ensure that the criminals are tried.
We believe that even if the joint visit of Antonio Guterres, the World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and the head of International Red Cross does not have a direct impact on the Security Council, it will be able to mobilise global opinion. The World Bank must be commended for announcing a USD 4.8 million for the Rohingyas and local community in Cox’ Bazar. However, there is no alternative but for the globally recognised forums like the Security Council and the International Criminal Court to keep up pressure on Myanmar. Unless faced with a stern ultimatum, the Myanmar government will not change its stance.
The UN secretary general has understood the basic solution to the crisis. He rightly has said, conducive circumstances must first be ensured in order for the Rohingyas to return to their homeland. For this, Myanmar must reach a political solution. But the unfortunate fact remains, Myanmar is more eager to sign all sorts of agreements and MOUs rather than look for a political solution.
There are no signs of any change in its state policy to drive Rohingyas out of the country. It does not seem they are even holding any discussions on the matter. It is very true that whatever the international community has been doing, there has been ‘progress’, but no results. The US secretary general could not answer why they left the word ‘Rohingya’ out of the deal which they signed. It is certainly a display of their weakness that they failed to make Myanmar recognise the identity of a small ethnic community, even though the Guterres referred to them as Rohingyas.
The UN Secretary General admitted that the Security Council was divided over the matter of taking steps against Myanmar on the Rohingya issue. Bangladesh should now concentrate on how to diplomatically resolve these differences. They must bring home the fact that unless the Security Council takes a united stand, Myanmar will not change its policy on the Rohingyas. And unless this is done, circumstances will not be favourable for the Rohingyas to return.
It is a positive step that the EU and Canada have declared a prohibition on seven military offices of Myanmar’s Western Command. World leaders must take more consolidated and effective measures. The UN Secretary General has said that the support of the international community is inadequate, thus exposing the helplessness of his organisation. It is also true that the UN does not seem to have used everything in this capacity in the case of Myanmar.
We hope that the UN Secretary General’s emotional outburst at the press briefing serves to move the world conscience. We hope it wakes the Security Council from its slumber so that it emerges from its geopolitical shell and upholds humanity.