Rohingya Crisis: Experts for moral diplomacy to mount pressure on Myanmar


Desk Report:

Bangladesh can explore more ways with much importance on “moral diplomacy” reaching out to everyone in global society to put pressure on Myanmar for ending the Rohingya crisis, says a US professor.

“States and citizens of the world must engage to put such pressure on Myanmar and its supporters,” Prof Mohammad A Auwal of Department of Communication Studies, California State University, USA told UNB.

Prof Auwal, also a senior research fellow of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) who visited Rohingya camps recently, laid emphasis on networking with and supporting local and international human rights and church groups that seek to end the Rohingya sufferings.

He recommended organising high-profile interfaith trips to Myanmar to open opportunities for change through dialogue saying moral diplomacy with a moral consciousness is a potentially effective approach to the conflict.

Acting BEI President M Humayun Kabir said Bangladesh can do more to reach out to Myanmar society and try to influence people at policy level but noted that Myanmar’s political structure is very difficult one.

“But we can work and can make a serious effort,” he said adding that not Myanmar only, Bangladesh can intensify its efforts to reach out to India, China, Russia, Japan and even the USA.

The former Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA said this (Rohingya) is an issue which has a number dimensions — humanitarian, rights and justice — and from Bangladesh’s perspective it has a geopolitical challenge, too.

“This is a test case for our diplomacy. We need to solve this problem,” Kabir said adding that they also need to think of what will happen if it does not get resolved.

Prof Auwal said only pressure from the international community on Myanmar and its supporters remain a viable option.

He said big powers have aligned their policies with Myanmar out of their political or economic interests.

Given the geopolitical equations, Prof Auwal said, the best or reasonable option for Bangladesh is to negotiate bilaterally.

“Moral diplomacy, as I conceive it, has three components — conventional diplomacy, public or citizen diplomacy and focus on soft power and nonviolence approach. Everyone can be a moral diplomat,” he said adding that moral diplomacy is a strategic communicative response.

Prof Auwal said moral diplomacy has a role for everyone including the state officials and citizens who care about human rights, human dignity, liberty, and justice.

“In this world society, we can reach out to almost anyone. We must have faith in the innate human goodness. We can expose the character of the criminals or immoral powers,” he mentioned in his paper presented here recently.

The Rohingya crisis is thorny because of the recent shift in the regional or even global geopolitics over the recent decades, he observed calling on the governments to stop supporting the inhumane policies of Myanmar at the expense of their values and soft power.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the Rohingya issue will remain a priority one for the government. “I think this problem won’t be solved easily. So, we’ve to overcome many hurdles.”

Emphasising the importance of stability and development in the country and beyond, the Foreign Minister said if stability prevails, development will take place and everyone in the region will be benefited from it (stable atmosphere).

“The international community has a big responsibility for their (Rohingyas) repatriation and rehabilitation,” he said adding that the interest of Myanmar, India, Thailand and China, not only Bangladesh, might be affected if the Rohingya crisis remains unresolved.

Terming the Rohingya issue a very serious one, the Foreign Minister laid emphasis on further analysing economic, social and security impacts and subsequent consequences due to the Rohingya crisis.

Minister Momen briefed diplomats stationed in Dhaka recently and thanked the international community for their support.

He hoped that the international community would continue to play a constructive role in resolving the Rohingya crisis which lies in their safe, sustainable and dignified return to Myanmar.

The international community appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s humanitarian support to over 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the first batch of Rohingya repatriation on November 15 last year but it was halted due to lack of a conducive environment in Rakhine State, the place of origin for Rohingyas.  unb


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