While Myanmar has been gravely violating international norms for long by not protecting the Rohingyas, the global community has done little to punish the country or stop violence there, experts said yesterday.
Such attitude reflects the failure to meet moral obligations of the world community, particularly the UN Security Council, they mentioned.
The observations came on the last day of a two-day conference titled “Rohingya crisis: future scenarios” organised by Dhaka University's International Relations (IR) department at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban.
“Myanmar has shown total disregard to the moral obligations. It failed to oblige the international law in terms of protecting the minorities, particularly the Rohingyas for decades,” said Delwar Hossain, professor of IR at DU.
However, the role of international community is inadequate, leading to the crisis an unresolved issue for years, he said.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingyas fled violence in Rakhine State since August 25 last year, while thousands of them were killed, women raped, houses burned and looted. They joined over 300,000 other Rohingyas who fled previous waves of violence in Myanmar since 1978.
The Rohingyas, a minority community in the Buddhist majority country, have been facing persecution for decades in Myanmar where they are denied citizenship, though they live there for generations.
While the role of the international community is crucial, only some countries, including the UK, the US, France and Muslim-majority ones, and European Union are supporting the causes of the Rohingyas, while China and Russia are supporting Myanmar for their national interests. Most other countries have opted for a middle path, Prof Delwar added.
UN Security Council has so far failed to take any effective action to stop the violence in Myanmar due to role of China and Russia, he added.
“As a result, Myanmar's position has not changed. It has been emboldened by China and Russia. Rohingyas are still fleeing from Rakhine. This is nothing but apartheid,” Delwar said.
Saima Ahmed, assistant professor of IR at DU, said the UN is practically hesitant to effectively respond to the Rohingya crisis despite the existence of a number of legal frameworks and resolutions to deal with the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
She said, “Instead, political rhetoric and high-sounding words and pledges were made in the UN General Assembly and by the Secretary General.”
Saima said this dysfunctionality of the UN stems from the extreme dependency on the decisions of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
“The veto powers don't serve the collective good,” she said, adding that the permanent members act for their own interests and that has been proved time and again -- from international crimes in Rwanda to Sudan to Myanmar.”
Syeda Rozana Rashid, associate professor of IR at DU, said under such circumstances, the Rohingyas are facing existential threats.
She emphasised that there is no alternative to international pressure on Myanmar so that it provides citizenship to the Rohingyas and create a safe environment in Rakhine for their voluntary return.
“It is important to empower the Rohingyas so that they can fight for their own rights.”
Former diplomat M Afsarul Qader, who chaired the session, stressed the need for mobilising global opinion for the oppressed and restoring the culture of humanitarianism.