Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the United Nations and the international community to take immediate and effective measures for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis. She came up with the call while addressing the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on September 22.
In her historic speech, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put forward a five-point proposal to the global bodies for immediate and durable end of the protracted Rohingya crisis.
“Myanmar must unconditionally stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine immediately and forever,” she said in the first proposal. UN Secretary-General should immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar, she said in her second proposal. “All civilians irrespective of religion and ethnicity must be protected in Myanmar. For that, ‘safe zones’ could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision,” was her third proposal. Sheikh Hasina in her fourth proposal called for ensuring return of all the forcibly-displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar. In her last proposal, she said the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission Report must be immediately implemented unconditionally and in its entirety.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, this was the 14th time she was addressing the UN General Assembly and this time she has come with a heavy heart. “I’ve come here just after seeing the hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingyas from Myanmar who have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This forcibly-displaced people of Myanmar are fleeing an ‘ethnic cleansing’ in their own country where they’ve been living for centuries,” she said. Bangladesh is currently sheltering over 800,000 Rohingyas, she added.
The five pertinent points that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made as proposal at the UN General Assembly on immediate and effective measures for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis, has already drawn proper attention of the United Nations and its Security Council members. It is also encouraging to see that some of the world leaders including France’s President Emmanuel Macron have come forward boldly to denounce Myanmar’s military campaign in strong words terming it as genocide. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has expressed his anguish over the plight of the Rohingya, accused Myanmar of waging a “Buddhist terror” against the Muslim minority and also denounced the “genocide”.
The UN Security Council is going to meet today to discuss the issue of violence in Myanmar and hear a briefing from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the crisis. Britain, France, the United States and four other countries requested the meeting after more than 430,000 people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, fled an army crackdown in Myanmar in recent weeks and crossed into Bangladesh. The meeting was also requested by Egypt, Kazakhstan, Senegal and Sweden, which are non-permanent council members. The United Nations has described the military operation as “ethnic cleansing”.
Security Council members will also get an update on the situation in Myanmar ahead of the formal briefing by the UN chief, which will be held in an open session. The Security Council earlier this month called for “immediate steps” to end the violence, following a closed-door meeting. The Security Council earlier this month called for “immediate steps” to end the violence, following a closed-door meeting. India, China and the United States are ‘strongly with Bangladesh’ over Rohingya issue and Myanmar is now ‘absolutely cornered’ amid mounting international pressure on the Southeast Asian country, said a government source. Surely, all these are positive outcome of Sheikh Hasina’s speech in UN.
As Rohingyas have continued to flee to Bangladesh, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi warned of humanitarian disaster. The exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar is ‘the most urgent refugee emergency in the world’ right now, he told the media while visiting the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar on September 24. The needs of more than 435,000 people who have fled terrible violence in Myanmar over the last month are enormous, he said, adding that the global community must step up financial and material aid to help Bangladesh deal with the refugee crisis.
Filippo Grandi has also reiterated its position on September 25 saying both the origin of and solution to the Rohingya crisis lie in Myanmar. “The origin of this crisis and the solution to this crisis both lie in Myanmar...,” he told a press conference at a city hotel. Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s stance, he said she clearly told him that the solution to this problem is the voluntary return of these people to their own country (Myanmar) and he also agreed with her.
Seven countries, including three prominent western powers, such as France, Britain, and the United States, are using their power behind the issue by meeting with the UN Security Council next week and discussing possible courses of action. Barring India, China and Russia, the global community including the European Union and the USA have condemned the atrocities perpetrated on Rohingya Muslims, and called for immediate cessation of such atrocities. It is also a sign of hope that the USA has shown its concern and engaged in the matter with their own accord and it may be a force to come out to put pressure on Myanmar.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s speech in the UN General Assembly bears a great significance towards the permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis. The global response to the Rohingya crisis was never seen before as it is now, but Myanmar is still unrelenting in its policy towards Rohingyas. The global community has to stop, once and for all, the persecution of Rohingya that is going on for decades after the military junta stripped Rohingyas of their citizenship followed later by robbing of their ‘Rohingya’ identity.
The Myanmar army has unleashed, with impunity, a reign of terror, aggression, ethnic cleansing, and genocide on Rohingya Muslims. Village after village of the Rohingyas have been pillaged, torched to ashes, prompting displacement and exodus of nearly half a million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. Coincidentally, on the day when Sheikh Hasina delivered her historic speech in the UN, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPP) in a Malaysian university found Myanmar guilty of ‘genocide’ and observed that the country’s State Counsellor and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was advocating in favour of the genocide committed by the country’s military. Though the PPP’s verdict has no legal binding, it, however, carries moral force. Suu Kyi, however, has dismissed the reports of atrocities as “an iceberg of misinformation” and fake news.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s appeal to the United Nations and the International Community to take immediate and effective measures for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis has not fallen on deaf ears. The most pertinent task of the UN Security Council right now is to stop the ongoing violence that the Myanmar army has unleashed with impunity for ethnic cleansing and genocide on Rohingya Muslims. We hope that the UN Security Council will take firm and effective steps to stop the violence immediately and put an end to the unspeakable sufferings of over a million Rohingyas in accordance with the proposal of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
It is really a curious matter that Myanmar wants to own the land but not the people who have been living there for centuries. An ultra sense of Buddhist nationalism against the country’s Muslim minority is working behind all the injustice. Since Bangladesh has been bearing the brunt of Myanmar’s internal problem, the global community should pay proper and serious attention to the five-point proposal that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina explained in her UN speech. We think her proposal showed the way of coming out of the Rohingya crisis.
The writer is a columnist