Bangladesh needs to resolve Rohingya crisis with help of regional countries

India is now a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January 2021. Following this, India has expressed interest in holding talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar on safe, dignified, and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya, writes Mohammad Rubel for South Asia Monitor

Mohammad Rubel Jan 08, 2021

The Rohingya Muslim refugees have been living in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017. They are awaiting safe and dignified repatriation to Myanmar under the joint management of Bangladesh and the international community.

The Rohingya refugees have been repeatedly subjected to cruelty in Myanmar. Myanmar's constitution does not recognize them as a minority ethnic group because the Rohingya were not considered citizens of Myanmar. So they were persecuted as disadvantaged groups in education, employment, health, and medical care.

China’s role in resolving the crisis

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Bangladesh and Myanmar to cooperate in resolving the Rohingya crisis. At the end of his visit to both countries, he outlined a proposal for the repatriation of Rohingya in three stages. During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Beijing in July 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang assured Bangladesh of their cooperation in repatriating the Rohingya. 

At that time, China's role in resolving the Rohingya issue was mentioned for the first time, which was a great diplomatic achievement for Bangladesh. China's role in Rohingya repatriation has been strengthened since Hasina's visit.

China has said that it will continue to hold trilateral meetings with China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, as well as work to form a conducive environment for repatriation. Wu Jinghao, Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told Bangladeshi officials that China had asked Myanmar to form a conducive environment for repatriation to Rakhine. China has commercial activities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar. China has the power to put pressure on Myanmar to solve this crisis.

Japan wants sustainable solution

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had visited Bangladesh three times after August 2017. He met Aung San Suu Kyi in Napido and promised to do everything possible to resolve the issue. Motegi promised to stay with Bangladesh to ensure the repatriation of Rohingyas with dignity. On September 26, 2017, Japan provided 84 million in emergency relief assistance to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Japan has strongly supported the Myanmar government's efforts to ensure the security of Rakhine state, as well as the implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission's recommendations that was released on August 24, 2017, and which called for several measures to improve life in Rakhine state. Similarly, the then Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe informed Hasina that Japan is interested in a lasting and sustainable solution to the Rohingya issue.

India’s looks for lasting solution

On the other hand, after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Myanmar,  India's Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, referred to the Rakhine State problem and said that it needed to be addressed in a controlled and efficient manner. The Indian Air Force provided relief to the Rohingyas in Bangladesh. In October 2017, the then Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj expressed her support for a lasting solution to the Rohingya issue and called on the international community to come forward for the social and economic development of Rakhine State.

Modi also stressed the importance of the safe and sustainable return of displaced Rohingya in the interest of the region. Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has said that India felt the need for speedy repatriation of Rohingya people. As a neighbor of Bangladesh and Myanmar, New Delhi believes that the well-being of all lies in the speedy, safe, and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar. During Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Dhaka in August 2020, India expressed its interest in discussing Rohingya repatriation.

India is now a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January 2021. Following this, India has expressed interest in holding talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar on safe, dignified, and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya.

Other regional countries

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the Cox's Bazar camp, which is the world's largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh, in January 2018. He condemned the violence against the Rohingya. Four transport planes of the Indonesian Air Force brought relief aid to Bangladesh for the Rohingya.  The Indonesian Foreign Minister visited Myanmar and Bangladesh to discuss the Rohingya issue in 2017.

In the same way, the Maldives has strongly condemned the violence against the Rohingya and called for an end to the atrocities. The Maldives sees the Rohingya issue as a matter of urgency and determination on the part of the international community. The Maldivian government has called on the UN Secretary-General and the UN Human Rights Council to take appropriate action on the violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Similarly, according to Kedar Nath Sharma, Joint Secretary, Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs, had said that “Nepal has allowed Rohingyas to stay in Nepal from a humanitarian point of view; if they do not break the law, they can stay in Nepal.”

International community

The international community, as well as regional countries and organizations, must play an active role in resolving the Rohingya issue. Regional countries have expressed interest in solving the Rohingya crisis and many countries have come forward with financial and humanitarian aid.

The process of repatriation of this crisis has not started yet. Myanmar has trade and investment relations with China, Japan, India, Thailand, and Singapore. These countries play an important role in Myanmar's economy. If the role of these countries in solving the Rohingya problem becomes stronger, the solution to the problem will be faster and more sustainable.

Bangladesh needs to find a way to solve this issue by bringing together the countries associated with Myanmar such as China, India, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) 

(The writer is a Ph.D. scholar in finance and international trade, Kongju National University, South Korea. The views expressed are personal)

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