How the U.S. Can Contribute to Ending the Rohingya Crisis
The Rohingya have been facing discrimination, oppression, violence, and denial of citizenship since 1978. In 2017, the Rohingyas faced systematic genocide by the Tatmadaw which the UN Human Rights Council recognized as “genocidal intent” and a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The United States, as an active proponent of human rights and democracy, should recognize the genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya.
Many human rights activists have pinned a lot of hope on the Biden administration that it would prioritize human rights. In this regard, the U.S. can take a threefold approach to find a durable solution. First, recognize the ethnic cleansing as genocide and ensure justice for the Rohingya. Second, utilize the leverage of UN frameworks. And third, assist Bangladesh until repatriation takes place.
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state faced and are still facing systematic genocide that has forced many of them to flee the country and to take refuge mostly in Bangladesh. However, the perpetrators of the genocide have yet to face justice and accountability. The Gambia, backed by the OIC, filed a lawsuit against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice that ordered provisionary measures pending any final decision.
The UN and its organs are the last resort for voiceless and persecuted communities around the world. To end state-sponsored human rights violations and ensure the safety and security of the Rohingya, the international community, especially the U.S., needs to take the leading role in finding a solution. For the sake of human rights, the U.S. should prioritize the Rohingya issue in the upcoming 76th session of the UN General Assembly. A strong resolution on the continuing oppression against Rohingya will put significant pressure on Myanmar and its allies.
Since the founding of Myanmar in 1948, the Rohingya have been denied their basic citizenship rights. To find a durable solution, the Rohingya need to have their citizenship returned which they lost in the 1980s. Myanmar’s coup acts as an obstacle in the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees that will surely contribute to protracting the refugee situation in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has been facing a critical funding shortage in dealing with the Rohingya crisis. The U.S. has committed to providing up to $155 million in 2021. Additionally, the U.S. should contribute to the Bhashan refugee camp–an initiative the Bangladeshi government has taken to reduce pressure on the congested Kutupalong refugee camp. Nevertheless, repatriation is the only solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Rather than relying on praising Bangladesh for sheltering Rohingya, the U.S. should seriously take the Rohingya crisis for regional peace and stability of South Asia. The U.S. must take the leading role in resolving the crisis through recognizing the “genocide,” supporting the ongoing accountability processes using UN frameworks, and supporting Bangladesh in managing the huge burden of Rohingya refugees.