Myanmar softens its position on Rohingya refugees
Saturday, 10 August 2019
(Continued from yesterday)
Time bomb
His comments appear to reflect Bangladesh’s growing frustration and concern about the prolonged, indefinite stay of the Rohingya in squalid refugee camps, which is slowly but surely endangering the country’s security and stability.
Choudhury, the security analyst, says the biggest threat appear to stem from the growing adolescent camp population.
“Nearly 200,000 young jobless males are in the camps growing up with little or no education and an uncertain future. They can easily be misguided to join the terrorist groups or just local criminal gangs or drift into drugs and drug trades,” he said. “The longer the Rohingya stay in the camp, the greater is the danger of them turning into a potential time-bomb.”
Foreign Minister Momen warned that development projects in both Bangladesh and Myanmar would be affected if uncertainty prevailed with pockets of possible radicalization due to the youths’ prolonged stay and uncertain future.
He said the projects of Japan and China in both Bangladesh and Myanmar would be affected if this problem remained unresolved and urged that they, for their own interest, ask Myanmar to take back its nationals. Myanmar is heavily dependent on their development assistance.
To be sure, they showed little interest initially despite Bangladesh’s fervent call for their intervention. But now they seem to be responding to Dhaka’s calls, perhaps rattled by the looming threat to their economic interests.
The month just past has seen the most visible steps taken by Beijing and Tokyo in resolving the Rohingya crisis. First, China made a commitment to take active role towards that goal when prime minister Hasina met Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Then on Tuesday this week, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, during his meeting with Momen in Dhaka, offered to mediate between Bangladesh and Myanmar. On Monday, he had visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar to talk to the refugees.

Change of heart
Foreign policy experts and analysts say some recent developments and a combination of factors forced Myanmar to soften its position.
“It’s the result of international pressure and I should say pressure from China after our prime minister’s visit to that country early this month,” Choudhury told Asia Times.
Besides, he said, the recent pressure from the Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad, who called for a separate state for the Rohingya, coupled with a recent proposal from US Congressman Bradley Sherman to bring Rakhine state under Bangladesh’s control, could have contributed to the change in Myanmar’s position.
But what perhaps really unnerved the Myanmar authorities is a decision of the International Criminal Court to begin investigation into the allegations of committing genocide against the Myanmar military junta, as well as a US travel ban on Myanmar generals.
Last week, James Stewart, an ICC prosecutor, wrapped up a six-day trip to Bangladesh and Rohingya refugee camps as part of preparations for a potential ICC investigation into Myanmar’s military for alleged crimes of humanity against Rohingya.
On July 16, the day Stewart’s team landed in Bangladesh, the United States issued travel bans on Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and three other generals for their alleged role in a brutal 2017 crackdown on Rohingya in their home state of Rakhine.
The United States and the United Nations had described the crackdown as “ethnic cleansing,” which, according to a U.N. fact-finding mission in August, included mass killings and gang rapes
All these factors are ” having a snowball effect”, Choudhury said. “We just need to continue the pressure.”