In just three months’ time Bangladesh had to play host to far bigger a community than the entire population of Bhutan.
Talking about the complexity and magnanimity of the Rohingya crisis, an academic said this on Monday and pointed out that the issue is no longer a bilateral matter between Myanmar and Bangladesh rather, it is simultaneously national, regional and international issue.
Director of Centre for Genocide Studies at Dhaka University, Prof Imtiaz Ahmed said currently Bangladesh has a Rohingya population, which is far more than the Bhutan’s entire population.
While presenting a keynote address at the first session of a two-day international conference titled “Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Towards Sustainable Solutions” at Dhaka University, he said Bhutan has around 800,000 people whereas Bangladesh had to give refuge to some 1.2 million Rohingyas.
“It took Bhutan thousands of years to become Bhutan and this is one ‘Bhutan’ in Bangladesh which has emerged in three months’ time”, he said adding that this dimension needs to be kept in mind.
He pointed out four dates as critical. “On 23 August, 2017, the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State (also known as the Kofi Annan Commission) submitted its final report to the Myanmar national authorities. On 24 August, the media, at home and abroad, published the report in detail. On 25 August, the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked the Myanmar military forces. The very next day, on 26 August, the Myanmar military resorted to what came to be referred to as ‘a textbook case of ethnic cleansing, which in next three months saw more than 750,000 Rohingya people mostly women and children, flee Myanmar to take refuge in Bangladesh.”
“It is an issue of being human, how to ensure justice to a population in a dire situation, a population who have lost everything, even to dream and live a life with dignity,”said Professor Imtiaz Ahmed.
Centre for Genocide Studies of Dhaka University, Brac University and ActionAid jointly organised the two-day conference with an aim to prevent further violence against Rohingyas and promote sustainable peace and reconciliation for those affected.
The first session began around 10 am with the welcome address delivered by Manzoor Alam, Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Justice at BRAC University, Chair of ActionAid Bangladesh and Co-convener of the conference. Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, UNDP Country Director Sudipto Mukerjee, and ActionAid Country Director Farah Kabir also spoke.
Later, a message from Robert Keith Rae, special envoy of Canada for Myanmar, was read out at the inaugural session.