Bangladesh protests Myanmar’s new trick

Myanmar has once again made a vain attempt to provoke Bangladesh and divert the protracted Rohingya crisis.

In its latest trick, Myanmar troops intensified their movement along the Bangladesh border. Bangladesh did not retaliate. Instead, the foreign office responded to the suspicious movement of troops by summoning the Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka and lodging a strong protest.

Ambassador Aung Kyaw Moeand was called to the Myanmar cell director general’s office at the foreign ministry on Sunday afternoon.

He was told that Dhaka wants the neighbour to stop the suspicious movement of its troops along the borders, officials at the foreign ministry said.

Bangladesh currently hosts over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district who were forced to flee their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state when Myanmar army launched a ruthless military crackdown on August 25 in 2017.

The UN called the military actions against Rohingyas as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and other rights groups dubbed it “genocide”.

Bangladesh from the very beginning tried to find a peaceful solution to the crisis through bilateral consultation.

The foreign office engaged Myanmar early for sustainable repatriation in an environment of safety, security and dignity.

As such, bilaterally agreed Framework Arrangement and other instruments for repatriation are anchored in the restoration of normalcy, creation of basic conditions for lives and livelihood as well as voluntariness.

At Myanmar’s insistence and the encouragement of a few other countries, Bangladesh tried repatriation twice.

But failed to send any as Rohingyas do not feel comfortable in the prevailing condition in the Rakhine State.

Bangladesh has been asking the international community to convince Myanmar of the imperative to make material changes in Rakhine- security-wise, economically and politically.

But Myanmar has been trying to provoke Bangladesh in many ways. Its choppers crossed the Bangladesh air lines on several occasions. The Myanmar government also tried to show Bangladesh’s Saint Martin Island on its map.

All those efforts went in vain as Dhaka did not respond to their provocation. The foreign office protested all those in formal channels by summoning the ambassador.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who gave Rohingya shelter on humanitarian grounds, earlier said her government was very cautious and did not respond to any provocations by Myanmar, thereby defusing tensions between the two neighbours.

“Our nearest neighbour, at one point, showed such an attitude that there will be a war with us. I alerted our army, border guards and police so that they must not get confused with any provocation as long as I don't order them,” she said before.

The foreign ministry on Sunday also conveyed the Myanmar Ambassador that such activities could create confusions against the backdrop of the already existing Rohingya crisis.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members have called on Myanmar to put an immediate end to violence in Rakhine state and create conditions conducive for Rohingya repatriation from Bangladesh.

The UNSC members including the USA, the UK and France stressed on holding those accountable who are behind the violation of international law in Myanmar.

They also urged Myanmar to cooperate with all international justice mechanism including the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.

The call came at a UNSC consultation on Myanmar attended by Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Tunisia, UK and USA on September 11.

UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Director of the UNDP Kanni Wignaraja briefed on the latest situation on Myanmar.

The UNSC so far could not take any concrete steps mainly because of opposition from veto powers China and Russia.

Myanmar now faces a genocide case filed by the Gambia with the International Court of Justice or ICJ.

The Court in February this year ordered provisional measures to prevent acts of genocide in Rakhine.

The International Criminal Court or ICC is also investigating the forced displacement of Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

Two former Myanmar soldiers recently confessed that they were involved in killing and burning Rohingya villages on orders from the high commands in Rakhine.

Rights groups said the situation in Rakhine state has deteriorated amid escalation of fighting between the Arakan Army in Rakhine and Kachin states, frustrating the hope of Rohingya repatriation anytime soon.

Bangladesh is also confronted with multilayered approaches as what the foreign secretary, Masud Bin Momen, recently said at an event marking the three years of the latest crisis.

“Firstly, bilateral with Myanmar; Secondly, regional as the role of ASEAN and the neighbours of Myanmar like India, China and even Japan & Korea would remain crucial in finding a durable solution of the problem.

“Thirdly, multilateral as at the UN, engagements at the General Assembly, Security Council, Human Rights Council, SRSG and at other relevant mechanisms & forums the issue needs to be monitored and search for solution should remain a priority.

“Fourthly, international or global community’s response in terms of accountability and justice such as media, think tanks, human rights groups, academia, students, civil society, in fact holders of global conscience, should continue to play their due role,” he had said.

“Their collective response has already acted as catalysts for the accountability response at the ICC and ICJ. We will continue to seek their urgent attention to carry forward the work which will also work as a confidence building measure for the Rohingyas in the context of their return,” the foreign secretary had said.