Myanmar falsified Bangladesh FM’s speech
Published: 16:52 27 October 2019 Updated: 16:52 27 October 2019
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr AK Abdul Momen was addressing the Preparatory Ministerial Meeting ahead of the 18th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday
Myanmar has falsified about the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr AK Abdul Momen's remark on Rohingya issue during a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. Bangladesh reportedly addressed the Rohingya issue to the international summits but Myanmar did not pay due response.
Dr Abdul Momen on Wednesday (23 October 2019) while addressing the Preparatory Ministerial Meeting ahead of the 18th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku emphasized on ensuring accountability of the perpetrators those committed atrocities in Rakhine state of Myanmar to check repetition of the Rohingya crisis. "If we do not want to see a recurrence of the Rohingya crisis, we should hold the perpetrators accountable," he said. He also expressed dissatisfaction on Myanmar's role in the process of solving the Rohingya crisis. Despite giving commitments to Bangladesh Government, to ensure conducive environment in Northern Rakhine State and conduct repatriation of Rohingyas, Myanmar has not taken back any of the Rohingyas till date, he said. He, therefore, urged the international community, particularly the ASEAN neighbours of Myanmar to remain engaged with Myanmar to reach a solution of this crisis.
On the backdrop of above urge made by Bangladeshi foreign Minister, International Cooperation Minister of Myanmar Mr. U Kyaw Tin told that the Rakhine issue is not one of driving an ethnic group out of the country, as wrongfully alleged; rather the crisis is a political and economic issue involving cross-border migration that began in British colonial times. While the migration problem was compounded by poverty, lack of rule of law and security in the region, there has been a deep-rooted history of tensions, mutual mistrust and fear between the local ethnic communities and the migrant community, he said. The Myanmar Minister also said that while the issue of Rakhine is very complex, and while the communities involved require time and space to build trust and harmony, Myanmar stands ready to resolve the issue with the cooperation of Bangladesh based on the bilateral agreement signed between two countries.
On the same day in Tokyo, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told Nikkei Asian Review that the crackdown that drove the Rohingya to Bangladesh was a response to a “terrorist attack.” She added that while Myanmar understands international concerns about human rights, it is disappointed that the international community has paid very little attention to the terrorist element of the problems in Rakhine.
Later on 26 October 2019, at the plenary session of the 18th Summit of the NAM in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan at Baku Congress Centre, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the international community to resolve the Rohingya crisis. She said that the Rohingya crisis not only destabilizing Bangladesh but also beyond the country. She said that the voluntary return of the Myanmar nationals to their homeland in safe, security and dignity is the only solution to the problem. She added following:
"The Rohingya crisis is a political one deeply rooted in Myanmar. Thus, its solution has to be found inside Myanmar."
The Premier reminded the international community that the Rohingya crisis could destabilize Bangladesh and beyond it and said, "We are currently hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. It has the potential to destabilizing our country and beyond. We are constrained to seek support of the international community in resolving the crisis."
It is to be noted that in the past, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has presented Rohingya issue to the world during 74th session of United Nations General Assembly. She said that Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State to escape the military’s large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing now become a major problem for Bangladesh. We are constantly carrying their burdens."
Earlier, the Prime Minister placed 5 points over Rohingya issue in the 72nd session of the United Nations Assembly.
Meanwhile, at the fifth Summit of Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Tajikistan in June, President M Abdul Hamid said Rohingya crisis can destabilize the entire region if it is left unresolved.
“The world knows Bangladesh hosts 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals... We seek a peaceful solution to the crisis and also signed instruments on their repatriation with Myanmar. (But) if it left unresolved, the crisis could destabilize the entire region,” the President said.
On this issue, during a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Baku Congress Centre in Azerbaijan, on the sidelines of the 18th NAM Summit, Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad said, “I think that a genocide was committed against the Rohingyas in Myanmar, and its trial should be held.”
Situation which led to Current Crisis
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and most of them arrived there since August 25, 2017 after a military crackdown by Myanmar, which the UN called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" by other international rights groups. These displaced Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine fled to Bangladesh amid the Myanmar military’s clearance operations. The atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces, including mass killings, sexual violence, and widespread arson, amount to crimes against humanity. However, the Military and civilian officials of Myanmar have repeatedly denied that security forces committed abuses during the operations, claims which are contradicted by extensive evidence and witness accounts.
The Real Causes of Rohingya Crisis
Rohingyas are an ethnic group comprised mostly of Muslims and a Hindu minority, who have lived in Myanmar since the 13th century. In spite of this, Myanmar has long refused to recognize them as one of its 135 official ethnic groups, rendering them without a country. Over the course of many years, ongoing violence and persecution by the Myanmar government have caused them to flee to neighboring countries, but recently, mostly to Bangladesh. Since late August of 2017, it has been reported that close to 700,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled the persecution by the military.
During British rule from 1824 to 1948, there was significant migration of laborers from India and the then Bengal to Burma (now called Myanmar.) During this time the British administered Burma as a province of India, consequently, considering this type of migration as internal.
After independence, the Myanmar government irrationally considered any immigration during British rule to be illegal, and used this rationale to deny citizenship to the Rohingya.
In 1948, in accordance with the Union Citizenship Act by the Myanmar Government, the ethnicities able to gain citizenship were allowed. While this act allowed families who had lived in Myanmar for at least two generations to gain identity cards or even citizenship under the generational provision, the Rohingya were not included.
Things dramatically changed further for Rohingyas after the 1962 military coup in Myanmar. At this time, all citizens were required to obtain registration documents, but the Rohingya were only given foreign identity cards, turning them into immigrants, limiting the jobs and education they could obtain. After the military coup, the Rohingya were particularly targeted. Besides the difference in religion, there is a high probability of the rejection and persecution they have experienced includes a racial component.
Later Myanmar's 1982 citizenship law in effect excluded the Rohingya from its definition of "national" ethnic groups entitled to citizenship.
The Current Deplorable Situation in Myanmar
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation agreement in November 2017 but implementation has failed repeatedly. The first batch of Rohingyas was scheduled to return on November 15, 2017, but it was halted amid as the unwillingness of Rohingyas to return for lack of a favorable environment in Rakhine.
On July 29, 2019, Bangladesh handed over a list of Rohingyas to Myanmar in a meeting with Myanmar’s Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Myint Thu. But the second attempt to start repatriating Rohingyas also failed, after none of the Rohingyas, approved by Myanmar to return agreed to do so. They cited the lack of accountability for atrocities committed in 2017, and uncertainty over whether they would get freedom of movement or citizenship.
The Rohingyas, who took shelter in Bangladesh, want to return to Myanmar after ensuring ethnic recognition and civil rights. However, they feared that Myanmar would not accept their demand. So, they requested the world community’s earnest effort and urged to put combined pressure on Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar have agreed to form a "tripartite joint working mechanism" to evaluate the situation on the ground for Rohingya repatriation.
Not only Bangladesh, but the United Nation's investigator on Myanmar also claimed that it's not safe for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to return because Myanmar has failed to dismantle its "system of persecution" of Rohingyas.
In September, BBC reported that entire Muslim Rohingya villages in Myanmar have been demolished and replaced by police barracks, government buildings and refugee relocation camps. On a government tour, the BBC saw four locations where secure facilities have been built on what satellite images show were once Rohingya settlements. Officials denied building on top of the villages in Rakhine state.
Earlier in July, BBC also reported that hundreds of new houses in Rakhine have been handed over to families displaced by the violence of the Rohingya crisis in 2017. But none of the homes were for Rohingya, the Muslim minority group.
In a video footage, titled “No homecoming for Rohingyas”, BBC's Myanmar correspondent Nick Beake said that journalists have been invited to see 250 new houses - built for people displaces by the 2017 violence - in Myanmar. The homes have been paid for by neighbouring India.
"Despite the washout, Myanmar's government is desperate to paint today as a big success. Another step in the reconstruction and redevelopment of Rakhine state as it sees it. But the reality is none of these houses will be for Rohingya Muslims because they remain across the border in Bangladesh in the refugee camps. And there's no sign of them coming home anytime soon. But other displaced families have been told they can live here. They are all Hindus," he said.
In July, the United States has announced sanctions on Myanmar's military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and three other military leaders due to their role in the "ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya minority. With this announcement, the US is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Myanmar military.
The UN General Assembly in New York just ended recently, and while there was much talk of the Rohingya crisis - including important discussions on ongoing efforts to hold perpetrators of genocide accountable - the root of the crisis in Myanmar continues to receive inadequate attention: the denial of citizenship rights of Rohingya in Myanmar.
The UN General Assembly report says that Genocidal regimes often use legal and administrative tools to facilitate the destruction of a targeted group and in case of rohyngas they are using Myanmar’s National Verification Card (NVC) process. Based on hundreds of interviews with affected Rohingya, latest report shows how the Myanmar government is trying to use the NVC to erase Rohingya identity and rights by requiring Rohingya to identify as “foreigners,” effectively stripping them of access to full citizenship rights in their own country. The report also documents that Myanmar authorities have threatened, beaten, and even forced Rohingya to accept NVCs at gunpoint. Their findings also confirm conclusions reached last month by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar. As summarised by Marzuki Darusman, the Chair of the FFM, “The threat of genocide continues for the remaining Rohingya.”
The Report also documented how Myanmar authorities’ ramped up their efforts to coerce or force Rohingya to accept NVCs just prior to widespread and systematic Myanmar army-led attacks on Rohingya civilians in 2016 and 2017, providing evidence of a correlation between Myanmar authorities’ efforts to force Rohingya to accept NVCs and their efforts to destroy the Rohingya as a group.
Furthermore, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) showed in a leaked report that the NVC will be a definitive part of the Rohingya refugee return process without addressing ongoing human rights violations taking place in Rakhine State. It, too, failed to condemn the NVC process.
A United Nations report last month found "strengthened" evidence implying "genocidal intent on the part of the state," including indiscriminate attacks against Rohingya that have killed even children. Despite living in what the report calls "appalling conditions" in camps, Rohingya refugees have refused the government's invitation to return to Myanmar, still fearing for their lives.
The UN has called the Rohingya situation the “world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis”, while reports of widespread human rights abuses by the Myanmar military including mass killings and rape have been documented.
Unsurprisingly, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who fled genocidal violence in Myanmar in 2016 and 2017 say they will not return to their homeland in Rakhine State without restored citizenship.
“I won’t jump back into the fire,” said a Rohingya refugee man in his makeshift shelter earlier this year on a hill in one of the world’s largest refugee camps in Bangladesh. “Until the Myanmar government provides us with citizenship rights and justice, we will not go back.”
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