BORN IN CRISIS AND STILL SURVIVING
The significance of Bangladesh government’s attitude towards the Rohingya problem is that it has been pragmatic
– ABDUL GAFFAR CHOWDHURY –
This year on 28th September Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be 70. I wish her in advance on this occasion and pray for her long and successful life. Her political life is colourful and as Prime Minister her achievement is tremendous. My prayer is that she reaches the goal of fulfilling her father’s dream of a golden Bengal free from hunger and poverty, rich in economy and built on a non-communal foundation. Her life is not an easy one.
There were many attempts on her life, and conspiracy after conspiracy were hatched to topple her down from power. So far she has survived all and my prayer is that to sustain our political stability and economic growth she continues to have people’s support and cooperation for a long time to come. Her life is dedicated to the welfare of her countrymen and humanity. Those who have given her the title ‘Mother of Humanity’ are justified because she has proved this with her lifelong activity. In the recent Rohingya problem she has earned worldwide praise for handling the crisis with courage and sympathy. During her current visit to America she met President Donald Trump with other world leaders. She was asked by the journalists whether she approached the American President to help Bangladesh tackle the Rohingyan refugees.
The number of refugees is 7 to 8 lakhs and they are still coming having been persecuted by the Myanmar army and there are wholesale massacre of the Rohingyan Muslim populace. Sheikh Hasina herself said that this torture and killings are almost similar to the Pakistani genocide in Bangladesh in 1971. Though Bangladesh economy is flourishing now but this extra pressure of huge number of refugees is an unbearable pressure on this economy. Still Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly said that if we can provide food and shelter for 16 crore of our people we would be able to provide the same for the 7 to 8 lakhs refugees also. With this indomitable courage she replied to the journalists’ query that she knows the policy of President Trump on immigrants and refugees. So why would she ask him to help Bangladesh?
The significance of Bangladesh government’s attitude towards the Rohingya problem is pragmatic. Though this refugee problem is an ethnic cleansing problem of Myanmar, which is very old and the burden of this problem is very acute on the shoulder of Bangladesh, still Bangladesh did not lose its patience and handled this problem with courage and sympathy. Sheikh Hasina appealed to the military authority of Myanmar and especially Aung San Suu Kyi that Rangoon government should immediately stop this persecution, take back their citizens, arrange their rehabilitation and recognise their citizenship. Aung San Suu Kyi, after long silence spoke in her parliament. She responded to the appeal of Sheikh Hasina without naming her saying that she will take back the citizens though she tried to minimize her soldiers’ barbarity.
Still there is a problem that how Myanmar will identify their Rohingyan citizens. Myanmar army burnt all their houses along with their other belongings. They have not provided the Rohingyans with a passport for a long time. Now if they deny their citizenship and do not agree to accept them how will the problem be solved? In this case a third party, especially UNO’s mediation would be necessary. Under United Nation’s supervision Bangladesh and Myanmar could sit together and can solve this problem peacefully and diplomatically. There is no military solution to this issue. Foreign intervention, especially western intervention in the name of mediation or peace effort will escalate the crisis and may turn it into a killing field like the Middle-east. Sheikh Hasina very wisely welcomed the help and assistance from other countries but did not seek any direct western interference. Perhaps her approach towards American help has proved her awareness of the consequence of that help.
Long ago when Begum Khaleda Zia became the-then Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the first time that very night the coastal districts were devastated by cyclone and vast areas of the country were flooded. The American Marine at that time was stationed in the Bay of Bengal, very near the Bangladesh border. They entered into Bangladesh in the name of quick relief work without taking any formal approval from the-then Khaleda Zia government. Just after her oath taking ceremony the country was devastated with the storm.
That is why people called her ‘Tufaani Begum’ for some time. But the American Marines did not care to obtain any permission from her government to enter into Bangladesh territory. They did quick relief work ignoring our army’s role and was accused by some of the media of carrying out some activities which in effect violated the sovereignty of a country but the government had to oblige to these activities. Even government had to accept a condition from America that if any of their soldiers committed any crime in the Bangladeshi soil they would not be tried in any Bangladesh court by Bangladeshi judges.
When American forces go to any country in the name of humanitarian help they gradually establish their military base there which is in conflict with the sovereignty of that country. Now South Korea is in a fear of nuclear attack for the presence of American military base in their Guam island. Anglo-American mediation did not solve Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan for the last 60 years but escalated it. In the present Rohingya problem and in the face of huge refugee problem all the big powers including America are almost inactive. They are mute spectators with only verbal protests against the perpetrators of this barbarity. Even big countries like India and China are not showing active interest to save the humanity in Myanmar. Bangladesh is almost alone in this human disaster. By bilateral discussion Bangladesh can pressurize Myanmar to solve this problem peacefully. In that case Dhaka needs strong pressure from United Nations and other peace loving countries on Myanmar to agree to stop this barbarity and help to save world peace.
Sheikh Hasina is strongly pursuing that goal. The peace and prosperity of the whole South-east Asian region are depending on her success. Sheikh Hasina is a lone warrior, she was born in crisis in 1947 when the subcontinent was surviving a terrible communal violence and division of the country with crores of refugees fleeing from their home countries. Again she was brought up in political turmoil through a war of liberation and became the Prime Minister of the country through crisis and since then she has been surviving crisis after crisis. We hope that she will survive this Rohingya crisis also. History may one day record her name as a survivor and an undaunted warrior.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2017