Since August 2017, when the most recent wave of the Rohingya exodus began, Bangladesh has sheltered the fleeing minority group and watched as the world has remained mostly silent.
With the EU now set to prepare sanctions on Myanmar -- more specifically, on key figures in its armed forces -- a significant portion of the international community will, hopefully, take a definitive step in the right direction.
As Amnesty International has said, the international community’s inaction, so far, serves to “undermine the rights of millions.”
The EU’s decision, of course, which comes in addition to US sanctions placed last December, is a good first step towards greater action being taken against Myanmar.
However, let us consider Myanmar’s behaviour merely over the past six months: For one, it has carried out what is essentially an ethnic cleansing against their Rohingya minority. It has made unreasonable demands regarding repatriation, and, subsequently, insulted Bangladesh and the very fabric of the repatriation deal agreed upon by our country and theirs.
And, despite promises to begin repatriation in two weeks, there are still Rohingya coming in through various points on the border.
Such actions show that Myanmar is not taking the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees with the level of importance it requires, and, thus, it falls on the international community to respond in kind and place the required sanctions that would pressure Myanmar to finally play ball.
To that end, placing sanctions on a few generals to bring up a list of army personnel responsible is hardly sufficient, considering that the entire Myanmar government is complicit in the Rohingya people’s continued oppression.
We feel the need to echo Amnesty International here: What Myanmar has created is nothing short of a “society encouraged to hate.” The world needs to stand together in showing the country that there can be no tolerance for such blatant disregard for human rights.