Op-Ed

A philanthropic Bangladesh
Abdullah Juhair
28 Oct,2017

Bangladesh, mostly known as a poor country worldwide; even more widely known as a nation full of natural catastrophe and disasters like storm, cyclone, floods, landslide and draught. Half of the total populations are living below the poverty line here. Political turmoil and stalemates are haunting the national economy of this country. Hindering the opposition declared programs or state machinery’s alleged involved with murder, abducted and enforced disappearance have established a notorious standard for this nation.


Moreover in recent years, another new perception has been created about Bangladesh. In 2016, when a restaurant Holey Artisan became a sanctuary of some militants, who detained some 50 foreign and local guests, came over there to take their dinner, and were brutally killed by those militants. Bangladesh, since then are being introduced as a den of militants as well.

But for last couple of days, Bangladesh has been appearing in the global media with a different outlook. A new humanitarian impression of this country, particularly of its peoples is being appreciated overwhelmingly by the world corners in recent times, particularly when the issue of mass killings and forced deportation of the Myanmar’s Rohingya community has come in forth.

Myanmar is the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. If we go with the history, then the territory of Bangladesh is somehow with a portion of Myanmar. But that is a very old connection. Myanmar and Bangladesh are two distinctive and separate independent nations now.

The problem of Rohingya became a troublesome issue for Bangladesh since its independence. All on a sudden, the authority of Myanmar started denying Rohingya as their citizens and the only reason behind such denial is their Muslim identity. This absolutely familiar ethnics of the Rakhine state turned into a hostile community for the majority of the Buddhists policymakers of Myanmar. 

Since the 1970s, a number of crackdowns on the Rohingya in Rakhine State have forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, as well as Malaysia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. During such crackdowns, refugees have often reported rape, torture, arson and murder by Myanmar security forces.

Since the late 1970s, nearly one million Rohingya have fled Myanmar due to widespread persecution.

According to the most recently available data from the United Nations in May, more than 168,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2012.

Following violence that broke out last year, more than 87,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh from October 2016 to July 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Many Rohingya also risked their lives trying to get to Malaysia by boat across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Between 2012 and 2015, more than 112,000 made the dangerous journey.

Prior to the violence that began in August, the UN estimated that there are as many as 420,000 Rohingya refugees in Southeast Asia. Additionally, it said there were around 120,000 internally displaced Rohingya.

After the killings of nine border police in October 2016, troops started pouring into villages in Rakhine State. The government blamed what it called fighters from an armed Rohingya group. The killings led to a security crackdown on villages where Rohingya lived. During the crackdown, government troops were accused of an array of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killing, rape and arson - allegations the government denied.

But for Bangladesh, dealing of Rohingya issue is not a new one. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya has been provided shelter and rehabilitated over the course of years under the project of Rabeta Alam Al Islamia across Cox’s Bazar and greater Chittagong. Ironically our authorities did not appreciate such endeavour. Even in the past couple of years, many foreigners had donated money, expressed their desire to visit the refugee camps but the local administration barred them from reaching to the persecution victims.

But this time, the people of Bangladesh became so enthusiastic to extend their hands of cooperation that the authorities have no scope to create any obstruction. Immediate after the issue of persecuted Rohingya came in forth, peoples of all walks rushed to the spots. As if, it became a humanitarian challenge and liability for an individual to respond to the calls of the oppressed Rohingya. The public this time are so sympathetic about the Rohingya peoples that they made the political parties as well as the government compelled to provide shelter and also to undertake programs for the Rohingyas.

Initially the government was reluctant about providing shelter to the Rohingya community but later they made it facing the mountainous pressure from the general masses. The other political party also declared programs and sent delegations with relief and other assistance.

But above everything, role of the common peoples are really unprecedented. They used the social media to create mass awareness and also to collect donations. It is really surprising to see that many peoples are sending and donating money to the account of an unfamiliar person just after reading his facebook status. This is really unique. We also see peoples to make live streaming from the Rohingya refugee camps. In those live telecasts, they disclosed their activities for which they are spending the collected money. This is unbelievable transparency from a country like Bangladesh which has obtained a bad image worldwide for the corruption of the government high ups and other officials.

Another thing is, the needs of the Rohingya peoples vary time to time. These philanthropic peoples also issued notification to other peoples about their recent needs. They also guided the peoples who are still waiting to reach there with helping hands. Without any administrative support and visible financial assistances, still the peoples are floating into those areas with assistance like house building accessories, or toiletries and baby foods. Many lawyers and peoples of other professions are also seen in the area along with the medical camps. Social media are also exposing that the young peoples in those areas are making mosques, installing tube wells, constructing toilets etc. So the Bangladeshi youth have shown the best humanitarian usage of the social media in now days centring this issue of Rohingya.

The youth, about whom many people are expressing frustration, as we are often become anxious about their moral degradation, have appeared in the scene as the most ever philanthropic generation. They have proved themselves as iconic figures and took the status of our beloved Bangladesh into a new height. Now we can boldly say, yes we are proud to a Bangladeshi.