Rohingya: Genocide survivors in Bangladesh

A Rohingya man is crying out loud while carrying his baby girl during the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and massive influx in 2017. -File Photo: Courtesy

International Day for the Prevention of Genocide on 9 December

Roton Malo:
The very first visit to Rohingya camp in 2021 introduced me with the extreme fear of mass killing among the women and children of Rohingya community that still exists even after four years of genocide that took place in Rakhine state in Myanmar back in 2017.

Any sensitive soul would recognize the fear and agony of Rohingya population who were forcibly displaced from their motherland in Rakhine in Myanmar in the name of complex and controversial identity issue.

The nations around the globe are literally responsible to protect their own population from any attempt of destruction, killing, serious bodily or mental harm, imposing measures to prevent births, transferring children to another group and physical destruction.

It is matter of disgrace and indeed an atrocity, if a nation does the opposite and goes for an ethnic cleansing and commits genocide against a minority community the way Myanmar did to the Rohingya population.

Int’l Day for the Prevention of Genocide
On December 9, the world observes the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

On the same day, the nations around the globe also observe the 73rd anniversary of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”), the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly.

The Convention was adopted on 9 December 1948, as an effective international instrument for the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. It provides a global commitment to “never again”, the Convention establishes a duty for State Parties to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

What Does the Genocide Convention Say?
According to the Genocide Convention (article 2), genocide is “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group and—–
• Killing members of the group;
• Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
• Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
• Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
• Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The historic Convention adopted in 1948 confirms that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or war, is a crime under international law which parties to the Convention undertake “to prevent and to punish”.

States’ responsibility & Myanmar’s contradictory action:
The Convention clearly clarifies the responsibility of the State to prevent and stop genocide against a national, ethnical, racial or any religious group. However, it is a million-dollar question if Myanmar pays heed to the responsibility to protect their people. In contrary, the military-ruled Myanmar has tarnished all norms & global etiquette and still showing their back to the whole world.

At the 2005 World Summit, the UN member States committed to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement.

In contrary, Myanmar has been adamant in rejecting the existence and identity of Rohingya people in Rakhine state. Moreover, the country conducted horrific genocide against Rohingya minority community and forced the surviving population to cross the Bangladesh border which is the cruelest atrocity in history.

Genocide Survivors in Bangladesh:
The scars of history’s horrific days of genocide by Myanmar army in Rakhine state, are still alive in Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. Even today after four years, they get frightened in recalling those memories.

The fleshy smoke in the air, frightened eyes of seeing broiled bodies of kith and kin, raped women with wounded bodies, panic children in darkness without guardians still get frail and fragile by remembering the moments of historic horror brutality.

Locked entrance of a Rohingya family at a camp in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: Writer

Bangladesh has shown its ultimate solidarity, compassion to the suppressed and depressed Rohingya population as well as provided shelter in its own territory. With friends and development partners, Bangladesh has also negotiating bilaterally and multilaterally for a peaceful repatriation of Rohingya people to their motherland.

Where the developed countries leave the migrants aside in wilderness, Bangladesh has set an example of showing ultimate compassion, love, care for the people who were forcibly displaced from their own land.

Rohingya population in Bangladesh are doing literally well in comparison with other such setup in the world. Bangladesh government with global humanitarian bodies stood by this huge population and managing every single need till today.

ICJ orders Myanmar to Protect Rohingya
In November 2019, the Gambia filed a genocide case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging violations of the Genocide Convention following 2017 brutalities against the Rohingyas.

Rohingya camp view from a watch tower in the camp area in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: Writer

23 January 2020, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Myanmar to protect its minority Rohingya population and prevent the destruction of evidence related to genocide allegations.

Atrocity never ended in Myanmar, the country that committed crime and conducted genocide against Rohingya, raised objection in January 2021 over Gambia’s eligibility in filing the case against Myanmar.

Myanmar denied the atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state and the allegation of violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. However, within a week after submitting the objection, the military took control of Myanmar.

Caritas Bangladesh stands by Genocide Survivors in Cox’s Bazar:
One of Bangladesh’s notable development entities, Caritas Bangladesh (CB) has been active shortly after the massive influx in 2017 through its Emergency Response Program (ERP) for the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMNs).

Since the beginning, CB has been providing Shelter, non-food items including Site Improvement, WASH, Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and livelihood facilities in 12 camps in Ukhiay’s Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar.

Besides, CB has been executing several activities for the host community. Right now, CB has been conducting humanitarian activities in Camp 4, Camp 4-Extension, Camp 20, Camp 13, Camp 1E, Camp 1W, Camp 3, 5, 17, 19, and Camp 20.

CB is the pioneer organization in providing LPG gas cylinder, tree plantation and installing solar street lights in Rohingya camp to protect the local environment and to stop deforestation. In the meantime, CB has initiated to provide monetary aid to about 1056 ultra-poor, unemployed families of the host community in Cox’s Bazar district.

Inmanuel Chayan Biswas, Head of Operation (HoO), ERP, Caritas Bangladesh said “Since 2017, from the very beginning of the Rohingya influx, the Bangladesh government along with the UN and NGOs has been ensuring the necessary basic support of this largest group of displaced people in history. The textbook example of ethnic cleansing should not be hidden by the newer exemplary chapter of humanitarian crisis.”

Caritas Bangladesh representative also said “Already four years have been passed away, the biggest group of a new generation of the Rohingya community is growing in a stateless situation with a different mindset. This will surely impact in the long run. Bangladesh government has been raising the issue of peaceful repatriation where support and cooperation from the international community are certainly required to create another example of humanity.”

The writer is a Freelance Journalist. He works for the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals in Cox’s Bazar and currently attached with Caritas Bangladesh. He can be reached out by Email: [email protected]