The Rohingyas continue to be the most persecuted ethnic minority on earth, and have been subjected to discrimination and systematic violence for decades. Rohingya influx is nothing new in Bangladesh; but what was exceptional in 2017 was the magnitude of the crisis. The recent Rohingya influx of 2017 has newly added 700,0000 Rohingyas to the already overburdened camps in Bangladesh.
Despite the fact that there has been a lot of focus on various issues, we still do not have any consolidated data or facts on the responses from Bangladesh, international community or host community. To this end, BILIA organised the symposium on ‘The Saga of the Rohingyas in 2017: An Analysis’, on 25 January, 2018, where four papers shedding light, analyzing the events that transpired over the period of August 2017 till January 2018.
The symposium was presided by Mr. Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), and Professor Amena Mohsin, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka was the designated discussant.
Three papers were presented by the researchers of BILIA, namely Ms. Nabila Jahan Joyee, Ms. Rumi Akter and Ms. Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed. In these three papers, the researchers talked on the significance of Bangladesh’s as well as global community’s responses to the ongoing Rohingya crisis. The papers also highlighted on the issue of repatriation of Rohinghya community under international law.
Along with these three papers, another paper was presented by Dr. Lailufar Yasmin, Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, and Deputy Director of BILIA, ‘Harmonizing the Relationship between the Host and the Rohingya Communities in Cox’s Bazar: Prospects and Challenges”. She discussed about how the response of the local community varied from August 2017 till date. She highlighted how there has been very little academic attention on the relationship between refugees and host community. Dr. Yasmin also discussed how refugee aid and development (RAD) theories called for strategies linking refugee relief programmes with local development policies.
Professor Amena Mohsin highlighted that the demands of the Rohingya should not only be included in an agreement but also presented before the international community. She also stressed that a conducive environment in Rakhine is of paramount importance to ensure their safe return. She added that Myanmar should be taken to International courts for committing crimes against humanity.
Among others, Zafrullah Chowhury, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Wahida Idris, BNWLA Director, M. Kamaludduin, Former Ambassador were also present.
The chair, in his concluding remarks stressed that if repatriation is the solution to the ongoing crisis, segregation of the Rohingya from the host community is the first thing that needs to be done. Along with the UNHCR, he also suggested the involvement of Red Cross by both Myanmar and Bangladesh.
THE EVENT WAS COVERED BY TAHSIN NOOR SALIM, RESEARCH ASSISANT (LAW), BILIA.