Bangladesh is always engaged with the international communities to resolve the Rohingya issue, but the China-Myanmar economic and military partnership continues and China must be held accountable for this, says lawmaker Nahim Razzaq.
“Japan and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as QUAD, have been active in the Rohingya issue. But it is essential that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China come forward,” he told a webinar organised by Youth Policy Forum (YPF), Oxford Bangladesh Society, and Oxford South Asian Society on 18 June.
Stephen Rapp, former US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice, said the massive outburst of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh was a result of genocide.
One thing to remember is that impunity increases crimes, he said.
The International Criminal Court in 2019 approved an investigation into Myanmar’s 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingyas. The decision came after rights groups filed a lawsuit in Argentina. Former democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi was specifically mentioned in it.
About the investigation, Liew Chin Tong, senator and former deputy minister of defence in Malaysia, said the Malaysian government is taking a xenophobic approach towards refugees now because of the political crisis.
“But I hope we can actually put together something in the coming months.”
Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, shared his life stories and shed some light on how the crisis had been affecting the Rohingya ethnicity for more than 65 years.
Everyone was oblivious to the issue and finally noticed it in 2017 when the brutal genocide happened, he said.
He said the international communities are failing repeatedly to take action against the military and the government of Myanmar.
“But we have seen a small country like the Gambia coming to the defence of the Rohingyas in The Hague.”
Provisional measures were issued and Burma now has to submit reports every six months, he said.
“But we have not seen any report yet. We want justice for all the people of Myanmar. We want to see that the Rohingyas’ rights have been restored in no time. The Rohingyas need to be added to the Federal Union of Burma,” he demanded.
Nahim, also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared how the Bangladesh government had done a lot and why the international communities must recognise the contribution.
“Bangladesh feels empathy as we also witnessed genocide in 1971. We understand the plight of the Rohingyas.”
He further said Bangladesh hosting over a million Rohingya refugees is one part of the crisis, but regional destabilisation can happen in the near future.
Accountability has to come from responsible institutions or bodies while the proceedings in terms of the International Court of Justice, the legalities, and challenges would take a much longer period, he said.
He also said the major concern here is the dismantling of the political settlement and nothing fruitful would come out unless the regional problem was solved.
“We need to emphasise regional solution.”
He said he believes that the role Bangladesh is playing is the best that it can do.
He thanked YPF for organising such an insightful discussion and said this sort of dialogue should continue. “I hope YPF and Oxford will continue hosting such discussions.”
Kirsty Sutherland, visiting fellow of practice with the Oxford Programme on International Peace and Security, was also present at the programme.