After playing dilly-dally with Bangladesh for over two years and fooling the international community with its false promise of taking back over one million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, Myanmar has now resorted to its nefarious agenda of making its Rakhine state totally Rohingya free – more precisely – Muslim free.
In January 2018, Myanmar agreed to take back 1,500 Rohingya each week adding that it aimed to return all of the over one million to Myanmar within two years. At that time, Bangladesh side said, it aimed to repatriate families together, as well as orphans and children born out of unwarranted incidence – meaning children conceived as a result of rape by the Myanmar military and Buddhists.
On January 16, 2018, Myanmar’s foreign secretary U Myint Thu told BBC Burmese, “The repatriation process will commence on 23 January”.
He said three more transit camps were “under construction”, and there were plans to “build new villages”.
Rakhine’s state secretary, U Tin Maung Swe, told BBC Burmese: “The houses are not yet built. We plan to build them under a cash-for-work project. We will give them both money and jobs. The returnees will build their homes by themselves”.
It may be mentioned here that, the Rohingya crisis has been described as ethnic cleansing by the United Nations and the United States. Despite widespread accusations of human rights violations, Myanmar has consistently denied persecuting its Rohingya minority.
Myanmar army’s admission of committing crime against humanity
According to reports in the international media, in January 2018, Myanmar army had on document admitted saying its soldiers were involved in unlawfully killing Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. However, it did not admit the cases of mass rape of Rohingya girls and women [even minor children] by the members of the Myanmar army.
International media saw this as rare admission of crime against humanity committed by the Myanmar military. In November 2017, the military exonerated itself of blame in the violence, and flat out denied unlawfully killing any Rohingya people, burning villages, raping girl and women and robbing-off possessions.
Shall Suu Kyi and Myanmar military officials face genocide charges?
In December 2017, the United Nations high commission Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for an international criminal investigation into the perpetrators of genocide in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the armed forces Gen Aung Min Hlaing.
That said, genocide is one of those words that gets bandied about a lot. It sounds terrible – the so-called “crime of crimes”. Very few people have ever been convicted of it.
The crime was defined after the Holocaust. Member countries of the newly founded United Nations signed a convention, defining genocide as acts committed with intent to destroy a particular group.
Human rights experts said, for the crime of being the abettors to the genocide on the Rohingyas, Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the armed forces Gen Aung Min Hlaing should definitely be tried in the international criminal court.
They said, Bangladesh already has shown the highest level of tolerance on this issue and there is really no further scope for Dhaka to unnecessarily wait for any actions from Myanmar on the issue of taking back the Rohingya refugees.
Myanmar authority’s secret plan
Sensing possible pressure from the international community, following strong messages from the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the foreign ministry, Myanmar’s military officials held a meeting, which was attended by Aung San Suu Kyi where they discussed a new trick of starting discreet diplomatic efforts with the help of China and India in falsely branding the Rohingyas as “Bengali migrants from Bangladesh”, with the ulterior agenda of not getting them returned to the Rakhine state. Myanmar may send a delegation to China by the end of June to ensure, Beijing does not play any role in favor of Bangladesh on this issue. Myanmar even may suspend projects assigned to China and India if they do not comply with its requests on the Rohingya issue.
The new propaganda with blatant lies
According to credible sources, Myanmar shall be now coming up with a new story stating Rohingyas in Rakhine state are “intruders” from Bangladesh and they [Rohingyas] do not have any legal right of returning to Myanmar. Following the strong message from the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the Rohingya issue and the subsequent press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myanmar authorities are going to initiate massive diplomatic measures in branding the Rohingyas as an illegal intruder. They also are going to start propaganda claiming Bangladesh is giving instigation to the Rohingyas in starting terrorist activities inside Myanmar. There are indications about Myanmar army staging some terrorist attacks, which would be portrayed as attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Such attacks may take place prior to Bangladesh Prime Minister’s China tour in July so that Beijing can easily avoid any request from Dhaka on putting pressure on Myanmar in resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis.
Anita Mathur is a senior journalist, researcher and Special Contributor of Blitz.