By Dr. Anita Schug, Spokesperson of the European Rohingya Council
The de facto leader of Myanmar surely has learned a lot from her more dominant power-sharing military generals. Till today, all her political decisions rhymed with the Buddhist radical ideology and the military, both of whom are determined to complete the “unfinished business” of total extermination of Rohingya from their ancestral land, Arakan.
Even before Aung San Suu Kyi’s party took power, thousands of Rohingya were forced to leave their homes in 2012’s violence, and to this day as many as 120,000 Rohingya are living in concentration camps such as IDP camps in Sittwe. In 2016, in the period of her role as the state-counsellor, 87,000 Rohingya had to flee for their lives to neighbouring Bangladesh. Since August 25, 2017, another 625,000 severely traumatised Rohingya fled, becoming the abandoning living-products in Bangladesh.
Due to the mounting international pressures, possible trade and other sanctions and her being linked to unimaginable crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing along with the military hardliners, she and her government have been using different smear tactics to get away with their crimes against Rohingya ethnic minority.
Not only do all her actions and speeches prove of her to be morally corrupt as her military counterparts but also has enormously proved that she, too, has mastered in hit-and-run strategies without the fear of being ever caught and brought to justice.
The international community is very much aware of the outcome of the ongoing Rohingya crisis, and they also know nothing will save the Rohingya unless a persistent external power rushes to come into rescue. However, the international community has been very clumsy, continuing to turn a blind-eye in dealing with one of the largest ongoing refugee crisis and Rohingya exodus in history. Myanmar’s governing elites have been testing the scale of international community’s reaction since 1978. They have sensed the lack of political will of the international community towards stopping the Rohingya genocide. So far, Myanmar’s governing bodies and the military have successfully got away without being held accountable for their systemic and wide spread crimes inflicted upon this defenceless ethnic Rohingya minority.
With China and Russia as their life guards at the UN Security Council, and Kofi Annan as her prime agent in the international arena, Suu Ky’s government shows unexpected willingness to allow recent Rohingya refugee exodus back to Myanmar. The irony here is that these Rohingya refugees will be detained in so-called model villages instead of their original homes. Rohingya lands have been seized by the government and reallocated to local Rakhine Buddhist population.
The repatriation agreement signed on November 23 between Myanmar and Bangladesh is equivalent to a soon-to-be bounced cheque. No government of Myanmar has the intention to accommodate Rohingya as dignified humans, let alone Rohingya be allowed to enjoy Burmese citizenship. With the absence of Myanmar´s military who is actually calling the shots, Bangladesh makes a fatal mistake by handling the Repatriation of Rohingya bilaterally even without taking at least one from the UN refugee agency, the European Union or USA on board. The current repatriation agreement was seen as an escape route by Aung San Suu Kyi´s government as she is fully aware of the facts: “Rohingya will not be voluntarily returning without a guarantee for their citizenship rights. Only very handful of Rohingya will qualify to return based on the 1993 Repatriation Agreement. It is very unlikely that there will be any amendment of the 1982 citizenship law.”
Sheikh Hasina’s government is aware of the danger of marginalised Rohingya falling prey to Islamic militant groups if Rohingya remain as refugees in Bangladesh. The haste in signing the current agreement to repatriate Rohingya back to Myanmar shows her government is trying effectively to send them back as soon as possible, ignoring the past experiences that Rohingya who were repatriated earlier from Bangladesh continued to face systematic state-sponsored discrimination and waves of violence in Rakhine state. Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations. When the generosity of the international community and local Bangladeshis will exhaust, the government of Bangladesh will not tolerate anymore to be the dumping ground for Myanmar. It is then, the voluntary return will become forceful repatriation for Rohingya.
What will happen at the end is, thousands and thousands of Rohingya will be violently pushed back by Bangladesh to concentration camps in Myanmar where they will face starvation, disease and further cycles of violence.
Bangladesh has accepted the cheque from Myanmar which is determined to bounce very soon. We are yet to witness Bangladesh crying over its fatal mistake on Rohingya repatriation agreement, and Aung San Suu Kyi will be celebrating a good shoulder tap from the Military on her perfect escape again. Tragically, Rohingya will never get out of this man-made catastrophe; persecuted at home and pushed back by their neighbouring countries.