From the Editor-in-Chief: The escalating Rohingya crisis

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, September 21st, 2017
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been speaking in a coherent, loud voice on the Rohingya crisis. In his recent comments on the issue, he has made it known that Myanmar leader Aung San SuuKyinow has a last chance of taking positive action on the issue through asserting her leadership of the country. Guterres took care not to condemn the Myanmar military, but no one missed his point. He was making a distinction between SuuKyi’s democratic credentials and the military’s continued dominance in the country’s politics. Like a whole range of people worldwide, the UN chief has been keeping tabs on the worsening conditions of the Rohingyas, more than 400,000 of whom have now made their way to Bangladesh.

 

There is little question that theRohingya crisis is a man-made disaster of gigantic proportions and will, even if a deal is struck with the Myanmar authorities on their possible return, take a long team to be rolled back. That chance remains remote, now that the Myanmar army chief has publicly waded into the scene. In direct opposition to the sentiments of the international community, General Min AungHlain has appealed to all Myanmar citizens — he has pointedly left out the Rohingyas from his formulation — to unite to face the problems confronting his country. He shares the belief of the Myanmar leadership that the Rohingyas are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and are therefore Bengalis who must be pushed back into Bangladesh. These assertions fly in the face of historical realities, but of course the Myanmar leadership, including SuuKyi, have persuaded themselves that the world is wrong and they are right.

 

The consequence has been ethnic cleansing on a vast, ruthless scale. It is inconceivable that in the 21st century such abominations can still go on, but the Myanmar government, which has also been stoking a Buddhist mob mentality on the issue, seems not to be worried at all about the damage it is inflicting on itself through this persecution of the Rohingyas. It was thought, till recently, that after the Rwandan genocide involving Hutus and Tutsis and the crisis sparked in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, ethnic cleansing belonged in the past as a sordid story that would not be repeated. The Myanmar military and its politicians have now told the world that it is all right to carry on with this horrible tradition.

 

It is today Bangladesh which faces the brunt of the crisis for no fault of its own. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is currently engaged in trying to influencethe global community to persuade Myanmar to end its policy on theRohingyas. Those countries which have close military and trade links with Myanmar should now join Bangladesh in its efforts to defuse the crisis in the interest of peace and stability in the region.

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