Dhaka needs to utilise growing global pressure on Myanmar: Experts | The Daily Star
04:38 PM, November 16, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:40 PM, November 16, 2019

Dhaka needs to utilise growing global pressure on Myanmar: Experts

Recent dev on legal front globally puts both Myanmar, its friends under pressure

Like Myanmar, its friends will also feel the “pressure” amid significant development on “legal front” that Bangladesh needs to utilise prudently to keep up the growing global pressure on Myanmar until a solution to Rohingya crisis is found, say foreign affairs analysts.

One of the experts says the pressure is not only building on Myanmar rather it is a pressure for Myanmar’s friends too who kept mum as questions are around why other countries cannot do the same like Gambia and Argentina.

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“The pressure on Myanmar should be there until there’s a solution. I think it’ll not be wise for us to give up until a solution is found. I think we shouldn’t stop here,” Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University’s (DU) International Relations department told UNB.

He said there should be negotiations with other countries citing example of Gambia and Argentina, and it will be easier for the government (of Bangladesh) to talk about the issue.

Prof Imtiaz said there are already questions around why the European Union (EU), Canada, France or other countries cannot do the same on the legal front as they talk much about human rights.

No Immediate Dramatic Change

“There’ll be no dramatic change in the situation immediately amid the last few days’ progress (on legal fronts) but it’ll help build pressure on Myanmar,” Distinguished Professor, Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, USA told UNB.

He, however, said it needs to be kept in mind that Myanmar’s friends -- China, Russia and India -- encouraged Bangladesh to go for a kind of bilateral solution to the Rohingya crisis when there were possibilities of fresh pressure on Myanmar in the past. “This is a kind of diplomatic game.”

Prof Riaz said it is absolutely necessary to take steps and extend clear support to the legal measures that are being taken internationally.

“It’ll go in favour of Myanmar if Bangladesh hesitates to take steps to that end fearing discord with India and China,” he mentioned.

Positive Changes

Prof Imtiaz, however, said there are some changes in that front as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently directly conveyed to Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to resolve the crisis.

Prime Minister Modi, during his meeting with Suu Kyi on the sidelines of the ASEAN-India Summit in Bangkok, conveyed the importance of speedy, safe, and sustainable” return of Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine in the interest of the people, and regions of the three  countries -- India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also had a meeting with State Counsellor Suu Kyi and urged Myanmar authorities to create an environment “conducive” to the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin.

“So, this (position of India and Japan) wasn’t there two years ago. We had waited for two years to solve it bilaterally,” Prof Imtiaz said adding that it is not two months that Myanmar’s friends could ask Bangladesh for a bilateral solution.”

The DU professor said policymakers in Bangladesh need to talk carefully and in a more guarded way as internationalisation of the Rohingya issue is growing. “It’ll not be so easy for Myanmar to escape.”

He said one thing is clear that the issue reaches the international level right now and this no longer remains an issue of Bangladesh and Myanmar as it is clearly understood that Myanmar is not serious about bilateral mechanism.

Possible Consequences

“So, obviously there’ll be pressure on Myanmar,” he said citing example of Argentina and Gambia which other countries might follow.

Prof Imtiaz said if they look at Argentina case, it is clear that there is no question Suu Kyi will visit there.

He also said Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and it will be difficult for Myanmar to go to the OIC countries.

On the other hand, Myanmar on Friday claimed an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is "not in accordance with international law".

About Myanmar’s reaction over ICC investigation, Prof Riaz said Myanmar’s reaction is not surprising and it is trying to deflect the pressure by questioning the legality of it.  “But there’s little doubt that the crimes committed by Myanmar fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC,” he said.

The global affairs analyst said the preliminary examination of the ICC’s Prosecutor’s office has found “a reasonable basis” for the allegations of crimes committed by Myanmar and pre-trial Judges accepted that ‘there exists a reasonable basis to believe’ of widespread and systematic acts of violence.

“Myanmar can’t hide behind this so-called jurisdiction argument,” said Prof Riaz.

Govt Remains Supportive

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said as victim of the world’s horrific genocide, Bangladesh from the very beginning of its statehood, always has been supporting the oppressed and violated people around the globe.

“The Rohingya crisis was created by Myanmar and indeed it has been a problem of long decades in Myanmar. To stop the recurrence of Rohingya persecution, exodus and bringing the perpetrators of this crisis into justice is crucially important,” he said.

To that end, Momen said Bangladesh remained “supportive” to the international mechanisms currently in the process towards ensuring justice for the Rohingyas.

Bangladesh welcomed the initiative of ICC and is encouraged by the recent submission of the case by Gambia to the ICC on behalf of OIC group under the Genocide Convention 1948.

“We believe, ending of the culture of impunity would bring some positive development towards the solution to Rohingya crisis,” Momen said.

Recent Dev on Legal Front

On November 14, pre-trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court has authorised the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya people from Myanmar.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her investigation will seek to uncover the truth. “My Office will now focus on ensuring the success of its independent and impartial investigation."

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi is among several top Myanmar officials named in a case filed in Argentina for crimes against Rohingya Muslims and it shows the Nobel Laureate, for the first time, has been legally targeted over the crisis.

On November 11, Gambia filed a case at the United Nations’ highest court, accusing Myanmar of “genocide” in its campaign against its Rohingya Muslim minority.

Gambia, which filed the case on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately.”

Rohingya and Latin American human rights groups submitted the lawsuit in Argentina on Wednesday under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” a legal concept enshrined in many countries’ laws.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine State.

Not a single Rohingya was repatriated over the last two years due to Myanmar’s “failure” to build confidence among Rohingyas and lack of conducive environment in Rakhine State, officials here said.

Bangladesh has so far handed over names of over 1 lakh Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities for verification and subsequently expediting their repatriation efforts but Myanmar is yet to take back its nationals from Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

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