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Myanmar’s crisis could Hit Rohingya Repatriation

Rayhan Ahmed Topader:

 

 

The military in Myanmar has taken control of the state from the civilian government on Monday 1st February 2021.The media reports that the tension was going on with the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government for the last weeks. And this is the day the first new parliamentary session was due to be held since a national election last November 2020.

This tension has started between its civilian government and the military following an election last year. After capturing Suu Kyi and other top civilian leaders, the military has declared a state of emergency, and they will stay in power for 12 months. In this, they will hold a new free and fair election for Myanmar

Bangladesh position in Rohingya repatriation after the military coup in Myanmar Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh due to the torture and persecution by the Myanmar Army and now there are more than 1.1 million Rohingyas living in Bangladesh. After the exodus Bangladesh has been trying to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis in a number of ways – bilateral, multilateral, tripartite and even through the judiciary. But till today no positive output on Rohingya repatriation happens.On 23 November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the Rohingya Repatriation Deal at Naypyidaw. On January 16, 2018,

But due to the lack of confidence of the Rohingyas in the Myanmar government, the repatriation efforts failed twice, in November 2018 and August 2019. Now more than three years have passed since the latest 2017 exodus occurred and not a single Rohingya has been repatriated to Myanmar.Myanmar hit headlines around the world on 1 February 2021 when its military seized power and the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of her party were detained. After taking power, the Myanmar Army has declared a year-long state of emergency. Myanmar Army seized power by removing the elected representatives on charges of vote rigging. After taking control of power by Myanmar Army Rohingya repatriation from Bangladesh is now facing uncertainty. During Suu Kyi’s past five years rule, Myanmar’s civilian government led by Suu Kyi and the Military have different views on almost all issues, but the two sides have had a common position on Rohingya policy. Therefore, analysts believe that even if there is a change of power in Myanmar, there will not be much change in the policy relating to the minority Rohingya Muslims. Rohingyas staying in Bangladesh being frightened In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s Army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands of them pouring into Bangladesh.

At that time the Rohingya people risked everything to escape by sea or on foot due to the military offensive which the UN (United Nations) later described as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. A counterinsurgency operation by Myanmar’s military in 2017 drove more than 700,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar and they took shelter in Bangladesh. At that time the newly arrived Rohingyas joined with the previous 300,000-500,000 Rohingya people who were already staying in Bangladesh fled by earlier persecutions. Now there are more than 1.1 million Rohingyas, living in 34 camps of Cox’s Bazar, the South Eastern District of Bangladesh and the host Bangladesh is eager to begin their repatriation to Myanmar. Several attempts of Rohingya repatriation under a joint agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar failed because the Rohingyas refused to go back, fearing more violence in Myanmar that denies them basic rights including citizenship. The Rohingya people said they are more afraid now as the military is in complete control of Myanmar. Khin Maung, head of the Rohingya Youth Association in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar said to the AP (Associated Press) on February 1, 2021, Both the civilian and military government have the same policy on Rohingya, and in this situation, the existing Rohingya in Rakhine state will have a worse future,

Rohingyas may be tortured again and there is fear of new Rohingya exodusThe United Nations has expressed concern that the military coup in Myanmar could exacerbate the plight of the Rohingyas who are still staying in Rakhine state of Myanmar. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on February 1, just after the Army Coup in Myanmar, “there are about 600,000 Rohingya those that remain in Rakhine State, including 120,000 people who are effectively confined to IDP ((Internally Displaced People) ) camps, they cannot move freely and have extremely limited access to basic health and education services, The Rohingyas, who are still living in Rakhine state, outside the concentration camps or IDP camps, are also in fear after the military coup. There is also a fear of new persecution against Rohingyas living in Rakhine state and new Rohingya exodus may happen again. It is learned that many Rohingyas living in Rakhine state are communicating with their relatives in the Rohingya camps of Bangladesh to find out about various issues relating escaping from Myanmar.According to the Rohingyas living in Rakhine, the Myanmar Army that has now taken power has led the entire Rohingya massacre in Rakhine in 2017. They will be humane towards the Rohingyas living in Rakhine, which the Rohingyas cannot even hope now-a-days.

Even the Rohingyas living abroad or in Rakhine do not have the courage to believe that the Army will do better for them. Tun Khin, President of the Burma Rohingya Organisation U.K. lobby group said to the AFP that, no one believes a word they (Myanmar Army) say. UN Security Council calls for Rohingya repatriation The UN Security Council has called for an environment conducive to the safe, voluntary, sustainable and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas, reiterating the need to address the root causes of the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that caused hundreds of thousands of mainly-Muslim Rohingya flee for their lives following a brutal military crackdown in 2017. In a statement on 4 February 2021 the UN Security Council members emphasized the need for the continued support of the democratic transition in Myanmar. They expressed deep concern at the declaration of the state of emergency imposed in Myanmar by the military on 1 February and the arbitrary detention of members of the Government, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and other NLD leaders. They called for the immediate release of all those detained leaders of Myanmar. It’s the military government that has initiated the repatriations in the past, not when Aung San Suu Kyi was in power,adding: Same thing could happen now if the military wants to ease some international pressure by taking back the refugees.

Everyone expects that the present Myanmar Military administration will respect the Rohingya repatriation agreement with Bangladesh and the Rohingya repatriation issue not to be suppressed in any way. Let the discussion on the repatriation process that has started after being closed for almost a year continue and let the Rohingyas return to their homeland, Myanmar.Soon after the coup, the newly elected US president Joe Biden strongly condemned the Burmese military’s arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and threatened to reimpose sanctions on the country. He also called for a concerted international response to push them into relinquishing power. India, Myanmar’s next-door neighbor, expressed their concern over the coup but refrained from commenting anything against the military directly. China is perhaps the only country that showed no concern over military takeover in the country. China has blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the military coup in Myanmar. Beijing has long played a role in protecting the country from international scrutiny. It sees the country as economically important and is one of Myanmar’s closest allies. Therefore, even if the United States imposes sanction on Myanmar but China continues to support the military then it would be difficult for Myanmar to restore democracy in the country. Bangladesh also has to seek China’s help for successful Rohingya Repatriation.

Writer and Columnist

raihan567@yahoo.com