There are at least 60 nations with fewer than one million people living rightfully and with dignity on sovereign in the land of their ancestors. Our South Asian neighbour, Bhutan, is a sovereign kingdom with a population less than that of Rohingyas who are living as refugees in Bangladesh.
More than a million Rohingyas are struggling to survive each day. They do not have even the tiniest place of their own in this world, a shelter for their weary careworn families.
Today they are known by many names. They are the most persecuted. They are the most vulnerable ethnic group. They are the largest number of people on the globe who have no ‘legitimacy’ to live in their motherland, Myanmar, despite the fact their people have been born and brought up there down the generations.
And now more than one million of them are refugees in their overpopulated neighbour, Bangladesh.
Since the emergence of the current Rohingya crisis in October 2017, there has been a flurry of headlines concerning Myanmar. These are either about atrocities against the Rohingya people or they support the brutal oppression carried out by Myanmar’s military which is perceived to the country’s de facto rulers.
However, at the outset of the new year, the international communities, who so long had their eyes wide shut, decided to raise their voices.
In response, Myanmar hurried to cover up the carnage by their army, apparently to dodge any ban by the United Nations and to avoid the wrath of the world powers.
In the face of ban threats from the United States and members of the European Union, in the span of three and half months this year, the anti-Rohingya military hit the headlines afresh with their ‘changing nature’ and came up with certain conflicting actions to save their own backs.
The Myanmar rulers apparently softened their positions and hurriedly attempted to hide their blood-stained faces. But, they could not succeed to do so, thanks to the onrush of media reports.
The media reports unveil the real face of Myanmar. Their recently reported conflicting actions read: ‘Bangladesh-Myanmar sign Rohingya repatriation deal’, ‘Myanmar military fire gunshots threatening Rohingyas on ‘no man’s land’ to leave the places’, ‘Myanmar bulldozed proof of evidences of Rohingya genocide’, ‘Myanmar lures Bangladeshi Buddhists to take over Rohingya abandoned lands in the country’ and finally ‘Myanmar agrees to cooperate with UN’ and vows to return Rohingyas in ‘the quickest possible time’.
A recent report says: ‘Conditions in Myanmar ‘not conducive’ to Rohingya return’ while the latest one reads: ‘Myanmar has repatriated the first family of Rohingya refugees.’
All the aforementioned actions are contradictory. This is eyewash and has given rise to controversies. They took these decisions either hurriedly or in the face of pressure from the global superpowers.
One does not need any ‘research’ to understand that Myanmar’s course of action over Rohingya repatriation is mere rhetoric, far divorced from reality.
Myanmar has recently welcomed the United Nations for joint work, but only after they bulldozed the evidence of Rohingya genocide.
At the time when Bangladesh was preparing lists of Rohingyas to be handed over as per the repatriation deal months ago, the Myanmar authorities deployed soldiers on the border and fired gunshots to clear off the remaining Rohingyas who were still living inhumane lives on ‘no man’s land’, nursing the faint hope to return to their homeland.
Myanmar’s visiting minister in Bangladesh expressed concern about Rohingya suffering in the camps weeks after the Myanmar military pushed Rohingyas into this predicament.
Myanmar said it is trying to bring back Rohingyas with ‘dignity’ and ‘in no time’ a few weeks after Myanmar authorities were accused of luring Buddhist families in Bangladesh to settle in the land of Rakhine state left by the Rohingya Muslims.
Finally, the conflicting statements of a Myanmar minister and senior UN officials on Rohingya repatriation, served to clarify things.
In the first month of this year, Myanmar’s minister of international cooperation Kyaw Tin blamed Dhaka for delaying the repatriation process and said they were completely ‘ready to receive [Rohingyas]...’
But three months after their ‘readiness’, the UN’s assistant secretary-general Ursula Mueller, observed that ‘…conditions are not conducive to return.’
The latest episode in Myanmar’s repatriation drama has brought forth fresh controversy between the sending country (Bangladesh) and the recipient country (Myanmar).
All of a sudden, on 15 April, the Myanmar government claimed that it had brought back ‘first a five-member family of Rohingya refugees to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state.’
Hours after the news, the Bangladesh government termed the repatriation news as ‘ridiculous’ and said Dhaka has ‘no formal information about the repatriation of a five-member Rohingya family.’
Thus, there is nothing that substantiates Myanmar has no ‘clandestine plan’.
It is nothing but a blatant lie. Myanmar is just fooling the world over the return of the Rohingyas.
Bangladesh should think twice before stepping into Myanmar’s plans, and so should the international community.
* Toriqul Islam is a journalist and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org