Canadian Prime Minister’s special envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae speaking on Rohingya issue. Photo: AKM Moinuddin
Dhaka, July 9 (UNB) – Canadian Prime Minister’s special envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae on Monday laid emphasis on gathering information of atrocities against Rohingyas in a very systemic way to hold perpetrators accountable and find a political solution to Rohingya crisis.
“There’re steps that need to be taken. We need to gather evidence, and evidence gathering has to be systematic,” he said in an interview with a select group of journalists, including the UNB correspondent.
Bob came up with the remarks while talking about the issue of accountability for potential “crimes against humanity” which include crimes of forcible deportation of Rohingyas which is now considered by the International Criminal Court.
Responding to a UNB question, the envoy said the important thing is that the international community needs to stress that Bangladesh “cannot be left to feel that they’re alone in dealing with the challenge.”
He said this is too much for a single country to deal with the burden alone. “It’s a too bigger problem. We need to have assistance. Canada increased the level of assistance. Other countries need to do the same. We need to work hard to make that happen.”
Talking about greater economic sanctions on Myanmar, Bob said when it comes to the economic sanctions there are several countries -- China and Russia; and many of the neighbours -- which are not prepared to do that.
He, however, said targeted sanctions carried out by some countries are really very successful.
Bob said they have to ‘work hard’ to find the legal means by which they can hold people accountable.
“That’s not easy but I do hope it’s doable,” he said adding that it needs to be recognized whoever it is that has to be held accountable. “We’ve to find the mechanism to do that with other countries and agencies.”
Responding to another question, Bob said, “If you leave lots of young men idle with nothing to do and nowhere to go –who knows what they are watching on cellphone and what info they are getting…yes, of course it can be a place for radicalization. We need to work on this together.”
Norwegian Ambassador in Dhaka Sidsel Bleken recently said the Rohingya camps could be a breeding ground for radicalisation, although they have not seen this happening until now.
"The risks of radicalisation and human trafficking are two areas we need to follow more closely," she said.
The Ambassador said they do not know much about what is happening in the camps at night, and that local journalists might be better placed to look into that than international journalists.
Bob recognized that it is difficult to ensure education, livelihoods and work opportunities for Rohingyas alone while they are in Bangladesh.
He said Rakhine is their home, and Myanmar does not even use the word Rohingya. “It is in the interest of Myanmar to create a climate of peace and a climate of stability because that stability is required for prosperity.”
Bob said he does not agree that by recognizing this community will cause delay in their repatriation. “There’s a solution…conditions need to be created. They won’t be able to go back if conditions are not safe and secure. We can’t morally and legally send people back to a condition that is not safe.”
He said he does not think it is an issue for Bangladesh but an issue for the region and the world, and the international community just cannot leave it up to Bangladesh to carry this burden.
“It has been a critical issue for many decades. This is a not a new crisis. This is a continuation of the crisis. This is a challenge that has not been resolved inside Myanmar,” Bob said.
The envoy, however, said it is going to take lots of time and efforts to resolve the crisis. “It won’t be resolved overnight and quickly.”
“We’ve to recognize that this crisis involves international laws and human rights issues. It’s a matter of heart and mind. We need to think what more must be and can be done,” Bob said.
He continued, “It’s my wish that people can return (to Myanmar) as quickly as possible addressing safety, security and sustainability issues.”
Earlier, Bob Rae said it would be ‘unconscionable’ for the member states of the UN to sanction a repatriation that was forced, or that did not include basic protections of human security and human rights.
“This is not a short-term problem with a quick fix. The fact that an agreement has been signed between the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and this is a first step in a possible process of repatriation,” he said in a report.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Bob Rae as a special envoy to Myanmar on October 23 and since that time Bob has travelled to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, and the UN in New York and have had numerous discussions with officials, leaders, and NGOs in those countries as well as in Ottawa, and at the UN, as well as with a number of groups and individuals with an interest in the region.