Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly. (Shakespeare’s As You Like It)
Muslim Rohingyas, after their centuries-old native and independent Arakanempire, now the Rakhine state that belongs to the militant Buddhist Myanmar, have been subject to a brutal ethnic cleansing for decades. They are the most suffering and yet the most neglected human community of the world, about 900, 000 of whom have recently fled into refuge in Bangladesh from the inhuman torture by the terrorist Buddhist military-ruled Myanmar, triggering the largest ethnic exodus of modern times. If the Rohingyas were not Muslims, they would not have faced what they have been facing for years—getting uprooted, exiled, expelled, burnt, beaten up, destroyed, devastated, raped, ruined, enslaved, shot to death, and starved to skeletal and spectral existence. Buddhist Myanmar’s military and militant monks are brutally Balkanizing (like what happened in the Balkans—Bosnia and Herzegovina—in 1990s) their historically Muslim Arakan/Rakhine province. Fiercely involved in barbaric crimes against humanity, they have been committing gruesome genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority in masses triggering an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
On this uprooting of the Arakanese/RakhineRohingyas by the Buddhist Myanmar and pushing them homeless into Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina finds herself almost isolated internationally. No important player in the region is on her side. She has been cheated into cuckoldry by her ostensibly friendly but actually deceiving India, China, Russia, Japan, and even America, who are all solely driven by their narrow, mechanical, and mercantile concerns that are totally bereft and devoid of moral and humanitarian content. Their commercially motivated desertion of Bangladesh in favor of Myanmar is a point stressed by many analysts, academics, columnists, and journalists on the local as well as international media.
Despite their offers and promises of trust and friendship through all these years—offers and promises that turned out to be not so solid and substantial (if not “fake,” “phony,” and “ruse,” to use Donald Trump’s words for those he does not like)—most of the international players have actually been waiting for the right rendezvous to demonstrate their warm and true love for Myanmar over Hasina’s shoulder. What a shocking betrayal from all those posing as friends for so long! It is a betrayal that the intelligence community and the foreign policy of Bangladesh utterly failed to have an inkling into as they also completely failed to detect the Myanmar policy of rape, murder, and expulsion of its Muslim minority Rohingyas living there for hundreds of years in their native homeland Arakan/Rakhine province.
Those who are sending in relief aid (Saudi Arabia, Morocco, USA, EU, for example) end up doing only so without committing themselves to politically and diplomatically cornering and creating pressure on Myanmar (with the exception of Turkey, Malaysia, Canada, and the UK). As many politicians pointed out, Saudi alone, as the indirect leader of the Muslim world, was enough to play a crucial and decisive role in pressuring Myanmar into stopping the bloody violence and taking the exiled Rohingya refugees back in peace and safety with dignity. Furthermore, what would happen to the plenty of aid in cash and kind for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, a country widely known for corruption? Would the sick and starving Rohingyas continue to receive the international aid in a steady flow of abundance or as needed or only in trifles and trickles?
Sheikh Hasina alone cannot do much against the powerful Myanmar, made more powerful by having China, India, Russia, and Japan on its side, over the issue of the suffering Rohingyas, who are being savagely slaughtered and persecuted into leaving their homes in their own country across the Naf river into Bangladesh’s southernmost tip in the east. Hasina also can do nothing against her “deceiving friend” India for killing her own people at the border. She has done hardly enough to help the flood victims, her own people, in the north and east of her country.
However, Sheikh Hasina, like the stereotype figure in popular folk culture who comes home to thrash his wife, can severely beat up her political opponents at home. She does it well with the help of her police/RAB known for their nonstop hostilities against the popular BNP and the much vilified and maligned others. She has the hands and feet of her political opponents tied and tethered in an authoritarian way–the way the Myanmar military has those of Aung San SuuKyi tied and tethered. If SuuKyi is free to say and do anything what she likes as a Nobel laureate and still does not say and do anything to relieve the sufferings of the poor Rohingyas, she is then a part of the persecuting Buddhist Myanmar military junta and their religious militant monks. In that sense, both Sheikh Hasina and SuuKyi are the same, on the same page, oppressing and suppressing their own people at home.
SuuKyi is a direct privy and participant in the internationally headline-making largest human exodus into Bangladesh out of the Myanmar military government’s genocidal and terrorist ethnic cleansing. She is Myanmar’s Nobel “Un-Peace” Laureate quietly and clearly supporting her government committing terrorism and crimes against humanity.[i] The bordering Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina, also an authoritarian and dictatorial “Un-Peace” maker at home, has however taken the opportunity to shelter the refugees with an eye over the golden apple of discord (as it was the cause of quarrel among the three goddesses in the Greek myth preluding the Trojan War over the abduction of Helen)—this time it being the SuuKyi-sort ignoble Nobel.
Also, Sheikh Hasina’s neighbors—India and Myanmar— know it very well that she is, politically, woefully weak at home, primarily because of the fact that she has a deeply and dictatorially divided country—her own country that stands not in full and complete support of her. She is heading a highly controversial and questionable, and, therefore, an immoral and democratically “illegitimate” government taken advantage of by Myanmar. No doubt, unity is strength, “united we stand; divided we fall,” and a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Sheikh Hasina has been hopelessly abandoned by at least those on the regional scene, as she is pitifully deserted when she gives her annual speech, proudly in Bangla, at the UN with the whole general assembly hall turned almost empty, except only a few, the other seats, personified, hardly any human sitters in, starkly staring at the female speaker from the Indian subcontinent, a fact frustratingly seen by all TV watchers at home and abroad for years and correctly noted by many columnists and commentators, lending support to how internationally isolated she is on the matter of the poor and helpless Rohingyas, their inhuman sufferings, and their criminal expulsion from their native soil by the Buddhist Burma/Myanmar whose barbaric brutalities on them at home know no limit.
Just as the West helped and stood by the Christian East Timor to secede from the Muslim majority Indonesia and the Christian South Sudan to separate from the Muslim majority Sudan, Bangladesh should help the Muslim Arakan/Rakhine State to break away from the militantly Buddhist and terrorist Myanmar. Had the Rohingyas been Christians or Hindus, neither the extremist Buddhist Burmese junta would have dared to kill and uproot them from their native soil nor the West would have played the role of the passive onlooker and indifferent passers-by. It is unfortunate that the Hasina government initially refused to open the border (although the Rohingya issue is a pretty old one) and shelter the suffering Muslim Rohingyas who were then indiscriminately vilified by her men, in a blanket accusation, as terrorists and drug dealers, just as Donald Trump vilified the Mexican immigrants as rapists, criminals, and drug dealers.
Sheikh Hasina had to yield to the pressure exerted by the popular political opposition in her country and the International Human Rights Organizations around the world. At first (from August 25 to September 10, 2017), she had her armed police/BGB inhumanly shoot, threaten, scare, intimidate, and turn back hundreds, even thousands of Rohingyas, until she had to finally give in. At the beginning her government even wanted to join Myanmar to stop the flow of the Rohingyas caught in the middle of the Myanmarese and Bangladeshi fire and water at the border or in the no man’s land.
What is even more shameful is that when Myanmar is engaged in unspeakably inhuman hostilities with its own people and its bordering Bangladesh, Hasina’s Bangladesh became engaged in awarding lucrative business to Myanmar by buying tons of rice from the Buddhist military junta. In times of unprecedented humanitarian and political crisis, Bangladesh has become an illogical Good Samaritan who, despite getting slapped on one cheek, strangely offers the other cheek to get slapped even more.
As if the shame of Bangladesh has no limit, its garrulous food minister went there to Myanmar to purchase rice along with his good and innocent wife. It was, as it were, a bizarre and surreal fun and pleasure trip for the food minister during what may be called a Dickensian “worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities, referring to London and Paris) between Dhaka and Yangon. It is an allegation made against the food minister Kamrul Islam (whose ill-conceived policies are responsible for the current price hike of the foodstuff causing suffering to the low-income group and were also responsible for the import of rotten wheat some time back) not only by many opposition political leaders but also well-known researchers and media personalities, who even publicly demanded Islam’s resignation for his utter mismanagement concerning the recent rice price hike problem facing Bangladesh.
What’s the point of feeding, raising, and strengthening a military when it cannot stop or is afraid to stop the Burmese incursion into Bangladesh? This is a point raised by many watchers and observers, who speak about the need for raising the specter/prospect of a military threat against Myanmar.
All other sovereign and independent countries would have shot down any alien/foreign helicopters violating their territory. By contrast, Bangladesh feels there is no choice but to helplessly “watch” and “enjoy” being violated by the Burmese “UFOs” crossing into its space. As the word goes, when the rape becomes inevitable, the victim has either to relax and enjoy or fight back, the latter being entirely beyond the means of Bangladesh left miserably alone by all she has mistakenly trusted, one-sidedly though, without being reciprocated.
Myanmar, being a pariah, militaristic, communal, and sectarian Buddhist state with the powerful neighbors on its side—some of them veto-wielding at the UN—,will never care for the internationally weak and domestically fascistic Hasina’s diplomatic overtures made for her by her old and unimpressive diplomats. Both the Muslim Hasina and her Buddhist counterpart in Myanmar are equally fascist to their own people. Hasina should first see her own face in the mirror before she criticizes Myanmar for violating human rights.
Secondly, having persecuted them for ages and having expelled and uprooted them brutally daily and having burnt and beaten them up away into Bangladesh, the barbaric Buddhist Myanmar, its marauding Buddhist military, and its militant monks would never accept to take them back—the linguistically, ethnically, and religiously different poor Rohingyas, although they have lived there as Arakanese/RakhineRohingyas for hundreds of years, like many other ethnic groups in Myanmar itself and elsewhere in the world. In all likelihood, they seem to have been able to make their risky, harrowing, and hazardous journey into refuge in Bangladesh only to stay there forever.
To repeat, Myanmar would never take the Rohingyas back. If it would have taken them back, why is it that it has beaten and driven them into Bangladesh, in the first place? It may at best take back the small number of Hindu Rohingyas as an eyewash and the return of the rest would be a daydream for Hasina. Since they are linguistically, religiously and ethnically similar to Bangladesh, she should start the process of integrating and assimilating them into the mainstream population without strutting and fretting about the process of repatriation, which would never happen. As a catalytic by-product, she got a lot of international publicity and may even hope for a default Nobel. Myanmar knows she is extremely weak and divisive at home and would love to get a Nobel as a cover. So this is the opportunity for Myanmar to push the Rohingyas into Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has therefore two choices only. Either it keeps the linguistically, ethnically, and religiously similarRohingyas, makes them its own, and accommodates and integrates them with its mainstream local and native population; or: —,
Bangladesh should march its military into Myanmar and occupy the historically Muslim Arakan/Rakhine to free the Muslim Rohingyas from the claws and clutches of the militant Burmese Buddhist monks and their terrorist military cohorts and other accomplices. Actions speak louder than words and the language of force matters and means business when that of soft diplomacy fails. Prevention is better than cure. Justice delayed is justice denied. In the present circumstances, Bangladesh, having miserably failed politically, diplomatically, and intelligence-wise, should assert its authority militarily, which would internationalize the affair in no time and force a realignment of the international players (India, China, Russia, Japan, America, EU, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia), to the great credit and benefit, not to the detriment of Bangladesh!
Finally, if there is anyone who deserves and can claim a Nobel for Peace for making it possible for the Rohingyas, whose plight and predicament beggar description, to find a little rest under the open sky, it should be the selected local (Bangladesh) media, local journalists, foreign media (BBC, Alzazeera), foreign governments (Turkish, British, and Canadian), and the international human rights organizations and the UN organizations (such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, UNFP, Care International, Save the Children, and Oxfam), but not any dictatorial, divisive, autocratic, and authoritarian politician or prime minister, who fails to take care of her own flood victims, millions of them, in her own country.
While Hasina is the belated and yet a Machiavellian mother of humanity to the Rohingyas, selfishly eyeing the apple of discord—the Nobel–she is also the frightening and terrorizing mother of inhumanity—Mother Goose of the nursery (folk) rhymes—to her political opponents at home, including the nation’s Mother of Peace, Humanity, and Democracy (MPHD) Begum Zia. If the former Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, who was also an upholder of democracy, did not win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 or thereafter, despite providing shelter to about 100 million East Pakistani refugees for nearly ten months of Bangladesh’s liberation war, how can a viciously fascist Hasina expect a Nobel for reluctantly letting the Rohingyas in?
By the way, that Sheikh Hasina is a mother of humanity, a title claimed by her flatterers and sycophants to have allegedly been earned from the British media for sheltering the Rohingyas, must be a Trump-type fake news. There is no real basis to the claim. Maybe it was a saying (lost) on air for the sake of saying, not to be meant and taken seriously. No credible source for the news has been found. How can a British newspaper, Guardian or any other, call her “Mother of Humanity” when she was and still is actually a mother of inhumanity to her majesty’s opposition?
At the same time, the noble Swedish Nobel Committee is being urged to revoke and rescind the peace laurel it mistakenly awarded, in 1991, to the clearly and convincingly communal, sectarian, violence-loving and genocide-committing Buddhist Aung San SuuKyisupported by her militant Buddhist monks and her terrorist Buddhist military. It is the same ignoble SuuKyi who, both vicariously and sadistically, said, in the context of her government’s ongoing genocide, that she was not afraid of and intimidated by the international threat and criticism of her government and that the Rohingya girls were not good-looking to attract the Buddhist soldiers to rape and have sex with. What a mean, lowly, sexist, gender-biased, and discriminatory characterization of her own “fair sex” that made her far uglier, far less attractive—as unattractive as a dull, dry, and diminutive plastic toy, a total turn-off—compared with the pure and innocent Rakhine girls!
Jalal Uddin Khan is a Canadian resident. He holds a PhD from the USA and has taught abroad in Malaysia and the Middle East.