Amendment of anti-Rohingya laws and creation of a safe zone in Rakhine state are the two steps that will lead to a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis, believes Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University’s Centre for Genocide Studies.
Prof Imtiaz came up with the recommendations while addressing a book launching and policy colloquium at BRAC Centre on Tuesday. The event was jointly organised by ActionAid Bangladesh, the Centre for Genocide Studies and the Centre for Peace and Justice.
He edited the book titled “Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Towards a Sustainable Solution,” which is a compilation of the papers presented at an international conference held in Dhaka in April last year.
Giving a set of recommendations to resolve the Rohingya crisis, Prof Imtiaz said: “Myanmar should amend its laws, allowing Rohingyas citizenships and other rights. It should also create a safe zone with the deployment of forces from different countries.
“If these two steps are implemented, Rohingyas will agree to go back. One is identifying the Myanmar officers who committed genocide and ensuring their punishment. The other is identifying the companies who are investing in Rakhine and telling them that they are doing business in a country that has committed genocide.”
He continued: “We need geo-political engagement in a greater way. Because, Myanmar authorities believe they have neighbours – China, India and Japan – behind them and thus think there is nothing to worry.
“Bangladesh has a very good relationship with these three countries too and thus should make the countries understand that their investment will not be viable if there is violence in Rakhine.”
Speaking as the guest of honour, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo emphasised the importance of both bilateral and international efforts to find a sustainable situation of the Rohingya crisis.
About the role of the UN in solving the crisis, she said when it comes to peace and security issues, the UN alone cannot do anything unless there is a collective political commitment and will from the member countries.
Secretary-Bilateral (Asia and Pacific) of Foreign Ministry Mahbub Uz Zaman, who is involved in the Rohingya repatriation process, said Bangladesh has been trying to engage its neighbours constructively for a suitable solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Director General of the NGO Bureau KM Abdus Salam said they are waiting for information to look into the possible role of NGOs in the last week’s failed repatriation move.
Executive Director of Centre for Peace and Justice at BRAC University Manzoor Hasan gave the welcome speech, while the concluding remarks were given by ActionAid Country Director Farah Kabir.
Justice Dr Syed Refaat Ahmed and Canadian High Commissioner Benoit Prefontaine also spoke at the event.
More than 743,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh when Myanmar military launched a crackdown in Rakhine in August 2017. Though Myanmar authorities said they are committed to creating a conducive situation for repatriation of Rohingyas, the UN says the situation in Rakhine is not favourable for their repatriation.
The two repatriation moves have so far failed as Rohingyas refused to return over the issue of their safety in Rakhine and not getting citizenship of Myanmar, where they had been living for generations.
From a rally in the refugee camps on Sunday, Rohingya leaders declared they would go back all together but not before their citizenship and safety are guaranteed.