Insight

When a problem becomes chronic, the need to solve it also seems to lose urgency. The issue of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, like that of the stranded Pakistanis, is not only old but one that seems to have been relegated (reduced in importance) are victims of the ethnic cleansing policy of their government and since the late seventies they have been pouring into this country in waves to escape the periodic anti-Muslim persecution, thinking perhaps that they would be safe in this side of the river Naf among their fellow Muslims.


As a further misfortune for both Rohingyas and Bangladeshis, what was their shelter in an emergency is becoming their permanent habitat. Although the contemporary world is violently denouncing racism, and zero tolerance to racism is often heard as a slogan in international forums, on the question of Myanmar the world’s leadership has adopted a strangely acquiescent (submissive, agreeable, compliant) attitude.

Of course, some kind of international sanctions were imposed against Myanmar but not for persecuting the Rohingyas. Far from twisting the arm of Myanmar the world’s leaders are pressing Bangladesh to adopt a more accommodative policy towards the Rohingyas – another sign of twisted value judgment in an unjust world order.

Although in the past a number refugees were repatriated with the help of UNHCR, that process is now stalled and according to media reports, early return of the rest is unlikely. The Myanmar government shows no enthusiasm in this regard and the visit of foreign minister Dipu Moni to Myanmar last January did not yield any result in this area of bilateral relations.

What is further disturbing is that infiltration is still reportedly continuing. The registered refugees number 24,331 but there are many times more unregistered ones – 400,000 or more. Because of this influx poverty in Cox’s Bazar district is escalating at the rate of three percent per year, according to a study report of Unicef.

It was also known that many Rohingyas are involved in drug trafficking and other crimes. We are not suggesting that Rohingyas are by nature more criminally disposed or less criminally disposed than any other people in the world (we are not racist like the Myanmar junta) but the unsettled condition of these hapless refugees is destabilizing society and vitiating the environment. This kind of environment even breeds terrorism.

A positive way to fight terrorism is to prevent the creation of environment that promotes terrorism. Bangladesh government would be expected to take up the Rohingya cause more vigorously with the Myanmar government as well as the UNHCR and other world agencies.

Source: The daily sun, 18/4/11, editorial