Rohingya repatriation is being held up due to Myanmar's disinterest
Rohingya repatriation is being held up due to Myanmar's disinterestReuters

In order to ensure a safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh, the trial and accountability of the Myanmar army for its atrocities against the Rohingyas in Rakhine must also be ensured. The international community must come forward in this regard. At the same time, the Myanmar government must also take responsibility for this crisis and provide financial and legal compensation to the countries sheltering the Rohingyas. Also, a transparent and accountable investigation of the crisis must be carried out.

These demands were made in the 15-point Second Dhaka Declaration on Wednesday, at the conclusion of the two-day international conference on ‘Connecting the Rohingya Diaspora: Highlighting the Global Displacement’. The conference was organised by Dhaka University’s Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS), Action Aid Bangladesh and Brac University’s Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ). This online conference as organised on the occasion of the third anniversary of the large influx of the Rohingya people into Bangladesh.

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The conference was joined through Zoom and live-streaming by experts, researchers and human rights activists involved in the Rohingya migrant and rights issues, from 12 countries including Bangladesh, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Netherlands, UK and the US. Rohingyas residing in various countries also joined the conference.

Director of Dhaka University’s Centre for Genocide Studies and professor of international relations at DU, Imtiaz Ahmed, said pressure must be put on Myanmar. Certain persons there must be addressed to change the situation.

Professor of political science at Canada’s Winnipeg University, Kawser Ahmed, said globally Rohingyas lack leadership. It is not easy to unite the Rohingyas scattered all over the world. He feels the Rohingya diaspora have failed to come up with a meaningful agenda.

Executive director of Brac University’s Centre for Peace and Justice, Barrister Manzur Hasan, said other crises have drawn attention away from the issue and so it must be made sure that this attention is not diverted. The Rohingya diaspora are spread out around the world, he said, adding they must be made visible and their voices must be loud.

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Country director of ActionAid, Farah Kabir, while moderating a session of the conference in the second day, laid stress on geopolitics, repression of the Rohingyas, the situation in Rakhine and the role of the Rohingya Diaspora. The speakers stressed the need for the Rohingyas to have one voice and also criticised the negative role of the media, the social media in particular.

President of the UK-based Burmese Rohingya Organisation, Tun Khin, said he left Rakhine when he was 17 and settled in London. He wants to return, to the land where he was born. He said Rohingyas in the UK were attending prestigious universities there like Oxford, UCL, Imperial College, etc. They were working to improve the lives of the Rohingyas in Rakhine and Cox’s Bazar.

The Bangladesh-born professor of political science at Canada’s Winnipeg University, Kawser Ahmed, said globally Rohingyas lack leadership. It is not easy to unite the Rohingyas scattered all over the world. He feels the Rohingya diaspora have failed to come up with a meaningful agenda.

Taking part on the concluding day of the conference were former foreign secretary and North South University’s senior fellow M Shahidul Haque, former Dutch ambassador and member of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Rakhine commission Laetitia van den Assum and head of the Rohingya working group of the Asia Pacific Refugees Rights Network, Liliane Flan.