Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina is called the “mother of humanity” by mesmerized disciples who apparently don’t recognize the ruthless inhumanity of sweatshops & child labor or of forcibly deporting traumatized refugees back to the killing fields of Burma or to an uninhabitable island in the middle of nowhere. Believe it or not, Bangladesh has not abandoned that monstrous scheme. You have to hand it to her for being an adept politician particularly skilled in handling photo ops of herself in maternal poses with Rohingya refugees–while at the same time entirely collusive with Burmese genocidaires.
Hasina’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal just handed a list 8,032 Rohingya refugees from 1,673 families to Burmese Home Minister Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe for forcible repatriation. Were any of the 8,032 people consulted about whether they want to go back? Are any being treated for injuries sustained in their escape from genocide just a few months ago? Do any have special medical needs? Have they even recovered from the trauma of genocide? How many are children? Are there orphans, widows, or elderly among them? Are any of them thought to be political dissidents by either government? What happens if they refuse to go? Will they be shipped back at gunpoint & in livestock carriers?
Rather than post one of the countless photos of Sheikh Hasina doing her maternal schtick for the media, we should look at the faces of these Rohingya refugee children & ask ourselves whether they deserve to be deported to concentration camps? Whether they deserve to live in squalor in refugee camps in Bangladesh? Mostly, we need to ask what we can do to demand no forced deportation–no decisions of any kind about the future of Rohingya refugees without their direct participation–& to demand our governments provide massive humanitarian aid & asylum rights to all to whichever countries they choose with visas & full refugee rights.
(Photo by Tomas Munita for NYTimes, September 2017)