On November 23, the civilian government of Myanmar and the government of Bangladesh signed a well advertised agreement to begin the resettlement of Rohingya refugees who have fled over the border to Bangladesh in the wake of the Myanmar army assaults on their villages since August. I have argued before that this was nothing more than a PR ploy by the government of Myanmar, and one with potentially dangerous consequences if the Bangladeshi authorities get over-zealous and start actively pushing individual refugees to accept the offer of resettlement.
Now, Human Rights Watch has obtained satellite footage indicating that the Myanmar Army was destroying villages as late as 2 December. It is as many of us in the international community have suspected: there was no serious intent to the resettlement offer from Myanmar.
In the most generous interpretation of events, this contradiction between the offer of resettlement extended to the Rohingya by the Myanmar government in the agreement, and the subsequent behaviour of Myanmar authorities in Rakhine state can be explained by the ongoing conflict between the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and the Army establishment which maintains full autonomy from the government and claims a great proportion of the sovereignty of the ostensibly “democratic” state.
Agreements such as that signed with the civilian government of Myanmar allows Bangladesh to cling on to the “hope” that the Rohingya will one day stop being its problem.Dr. Azeem Ibrahim