Ignoring all concerns, Bangladesh has started to relocate at least 100,000 Rohingyas out of 1.1 million from scanty camps in south-eastern Cox’s Bazar to Bhashanchar Island in the Bay of Bengal, which caught the refugees by surprise with its natural beauty and infrastructure — a heavenly transit on way home in Myanmar. But when?
This very basic question has ignited a debate after the relocation of the first batch of the refugees. True if not in three years, then maybe another three years wait for their repatriation to their homes in Myanmar.
First, the happy moments of the group is passing in Bhashanchar is reflected when one has a look at tyhe footages of TV news. They are even asking their relatives and friends by mobile telephones to join them as is natural.
Those who have visited the shanty camps on South-eastern Cox’s Bazar cannot but agree that the relocated Rohingyas are now in “heaven” compared even to their homes in Myanmar. Everything is available there from security to food, plus land to cultivate or raise cattle.
Thus the question with all the comforts will they be willing to go home. The ultra-poor Rohingyas may not like to go back to their bamboo-made shanty homes in Rakhine state of Myanmar giving up the comforts of Bhashanchar. That is human nature.
Secondly, the 1.1 million, as per official count, is less than the number actually who fled to Bangladesh over the years and have used passports as citizens of their host country to go abroad, especially the Middle-East.
I have seen the population boom in the camps during the first mass exodus in 1991 adding thousands more to the Muslim-minority group forced out of their homes by the Myanmar army under the rule of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi very sadly.
Thirdly, these Rohingyas have been allegedly getting involved in militant activities and became recruiters of new Jihadis both in and outside the camps, according to local sources. They are also involved in domestic politics of Bangladesh, instead of going back home to fight the Myanmar forces. They work under the garb of extreme righting Islamist groups and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its ally the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami who are organising campaigns against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.
They are also being blamed for fanning the current baseless campaign against a work of art — a sculpture of the country’s Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Sheikh Hasina’s blunt comments on the 1971 Bangladesh war to the Pakistani envoy Imran Ahmed Siddiqui may have links to information of Islamabad’s hand in fomenting anti-government issues to restore their friends BNP and its allies.
The fourth, many Rohingyas managed to get fake Bangladeshi passports to travel abroad, especially the Middle Eastern countries and allegedly onto Syria, besides joining militants in Afghanistan or even Kashmir to fight against India.
Thus the relocation is the most logical option for Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has to protect her country as well as its people.
The United Nations, the European Union and rest of the world must wake up to these realities and come forward to help quick relocation to Bhashanchar and other islands to keep them away from the mainland Bangladesh.
The EU Ambassador Rensje Teerink told reporters that the relocation of the Rohingyas in a third country was yet to be taken up for consideration. Why not?
On this side of the world Australia has huge land lying idle and on the other side the United States and Canada too can absorb these hopeless people uprooted from their homes in Myanmar for the sake of humanity, which Sheikh Hasina has done.
Thus instead of causing security, economic and environmental crisis for Bangladesh, an emerging economy, the world should consider the points above and relocate them in other countries if they have “illogical” concerns on the relocation of the Rohingyas to islands that this South Asian country selects.
Please stop issuing statements of concerns and reservations at the cost of Bangladesh’s very own serious concerns.