Bilateral agreements were with Myanmar on October 30 2017 and on October 30 2018 without involving the UNHCR for repatriation of the Rohingya who fled from Rakhine state of Myanmar as the army drove them out of their houses, apart from raping their women. These happened apart from burning their houses. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh also has spoken about the Rohingya in the 76th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations wherein she has spoken about ruthless operations against the ethnic Rohingya of Myanmar.
The United Nations-sponsored investigation in 2018 recommended prosecution of Myanmar's top military commanders on charges of genocide and war crimes against humanity for the violence against Rohingya. As of now, after over five years there seems to be no solution to repatriation of the Rohingya of Myanmar while Bangladesh is maintaining cordial relations with both China and India, apart from Japan. These countries have been maintaining good relations with the Tatmadaw of Myanmar. As of now, these countries never asserted pressure on Tatmadaw. It has come to our notice that these countries have remained absent when the General Assembly of the United Nations issued a warning on 8th June of 2021 to stop the flow of arms to Myanmar and urged the military to show respect to the elected representatives and release all political detainees in Myanmar including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. 119 members of the General Assembly of the United Nations remained absent including India, China and Russia while ASEAN majority members supported the resolution. It is interesting to note that Myanmar is the recipient of more than 80 per cent of arms and ammunition from India, China and Russia. So, a non-binding resolution will have zero effect on Myanmar.
There should be restrictions on suppliers of precious stones, since Myanmar is the largest producer of these stones like jades and rubies. In fact, Myanmar is producing 90 per cent of the precious jades and China is the major buyer of the stones. According to one report, the precious stone sales at the Myanmar gems emporium account for $ 6.8 million this year alone. Myanmar, in fact, is lucky to produce natural resources which include petroleum, gold, copper, limestone, tin and natural gas. As a matter of fact, Myanmar is rich in natural resources. Therefore, both the United States of America and the United Kingdom should impose restrictions on the sale of precious stones so that no proceeds from the sales will go to the members of Tatmadaw.
This writer appears to be perturbed to see the role of India and China in Myanmar while Bangladesh as a matter of fact is maintaining good bilateral relations with both the countries. It seems to be a diplomatic failure of Bangladesh, to say the least, to persuade these two close countries to convince Myanmar to take back the displaced Rohingya. As a matter of fact, the Rohingya people had been residing in Arakan now known as Rakhine since the late seventh century but the Myanmar government recognised 135 ethnic groups except the Rohingya.
Bangladesh held a joint meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and UNHCR on August 12 in 2023 in Dhaka to expedite resolution of the Rohingya people's return to Myanmar as citizens. It is learnt reliably that sanctions by the United States and European Union have practically left the Myanmar junta-controlled banks and oil companies short of money now. That seems to be frightening for the military junta. It is high time to pressurise the Tatmadaw from all corners including the ASEAN, the United States, Japan and China to take back the Rohingya from Bangladesh sooner than later.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former President of Nova Toastmaster International club of America. He writes from Falls Church, Virginia.