By Akeel Rashid
Diplomats from fifty one states, on Monday, this week, gathered in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, for an Asia-Europe meeting which became centre stage for the Rohingya crisis. This very coming together of foreign ministers in the Myanmar state was slated for different reasons before the outbreak of crisis in the Rakhine state. As various news reports from Naypyidaw suggested, the parleys on the Rohingya crisis were mostly dominated by China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. With the Chinese diplomat drawing a 3-stage path to resolve the Rohingya crisis, which has been devised in a way that it acts as a cover to atrocities committed by the Rohingya government forces and with Suu Kyi blaming illegal immigration responsible for global terrorism. Suu Kyi has tacitly blamed the Rohingyas for the crisis, who have been always treated as illegal immigrants from the Bangladesh. Apparently, the parleys on Rohingyas in Naypyidaw climaxed in favour of the Myanmar government.
The first phase of the 3-stage path to resolve Rohingya crisis, according to the Chinese Foreign Minister, was to effect a ceasefire which, according to him, has been already achieved. The second phase of 3-stage path include talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar Governments in resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis and the last phase has been proposed as long term solution based on alleviation of poverty.
By terming the lull in the sporadic acts of violence between Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and the Myanmar government forces as ceasefire, China has successfully coloured an ethnic conflict with a war thereby giving the ‘systematic persecution’ of Rohingyas, at the hands Buddhist backed forces, a semblance of legitimacy. In such a situation, Rohingyas have been directly held responsible for all the unfortunate happenings in the Rakhine state, at a time when they have been at the receiving end of this so-called war.
It was for the fifth time this year that the Burmese authority attempted to persecute the Rohingyas by means of a ‘savage pogrom’, which the UNHRC referred to as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. This time, the plight of Rohingyas did not go unnoticed and, instead the brutalities of Myanmar government which got viral on social media evoked sympathies for the ‘most persecuted ethnicity’ of the world and resulted in the outrage of the international community. The explanation of terror being unleashed by unruly Myanmar forces also resulted in the widespread criticism of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s criminal silence towards the miseries of Rohingyas. During the Asia-Europe meet Suu Kyi used this significant event for undoing the damage on her reputation; besides, she also made an attempt to reconstruct and dominate the discourse on Rohingya crisis in the favour of the Myanmar Government, which China helped her to accomplish.
Under humanitarian international law, by definition, the humanitarian crisis, as that of Rohingyas, can facilitate and justify foreign intervention of an international coalition but the international community’s response towards the plights of Rohingyas has been all talk and no action till now. Despite having strong evidence of an ‘ethnic cleansing’, a term which has been reserved for describing some of the worst atrocities in world history, and also the fact that Rohingyas are said to be having surpassed the Syrian war refugee tide, the international community has not been even able to enter Myanmar for mere investigation into crimes committed by the Myanmar army (expecting a military intervention from them then is a far cry).
While global powers remain(ed) busy in establishing democracies in the Middle Eastern states which they had perceived as threat to world peace, but a dictatorship under the guise of democracy was, by omission, allowed by the same powers to carry mass murders, rapes and persecution in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. If this is not rank hypocrisy, what is?
By just seeking the cooperation of Bangladesh and Myanmar in solving the Rohingya humanitarian crisis, China is waiting to find a solution for the Rohingyas in the form of their settlement in the Bangladesh, which can be also established by Myanmar Government’s earlier assertion that it will repatriate only those who will be able to prove their identity with correct documentation. It clearly reveals that the plan of Myanmar government was to cut the number of Rohingyas living in the Rakhine state and make few of them live there.
—The author is a student of International Relations (Peace and Conflict studies) at the IUST , Awantipora. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org