Friday, November 24, 2017

Bangladesh will raise Rohingya issue at UN General Assembly, Hasina says

  • Senior Correspondent
    Published: 2017-09-12 00:57:17 BdST

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaking on Myanmar Rohingya crisis in parliament on Monday. Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol

Bangladesh will take the Rohingya issue up with the United Nations General Assembly with a renewed call on Myanmar to take back the refugees, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said.

She was speaking in parliament during a discussion on a motion to bolster diplomatic efforts to mount international pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees and ensure their safety by giving them citizenship on Monday.

“I am going to the UN General Assembly and I will surely raise the Myanmar issue in my speech,” she said.

“Myanmar has created the problem and it will have to resolve it,” she said and assured the neighbour of cooperation to resolve the issue though discussions.

Myanmar has drawn global criticism for the treatment of Rohingyas. UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has denounced the ongoing counter-offensive against Rohingyas as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" and “disproportionate” to attacks on security posts by insurgents.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said Ankara will raise the issue at the UNGA scheduled to be held at the UN Headquarters in New York from Tuesday. The general debate will start on Sept 19.

In a rare letter to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also expressed concern that the violence could spiral into a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

He also said the issue could come up in the general debate of the General Assembly.

'Myanmar holds the key'

The prime minister presented several points to resolve the crisis:

>> Myanmar will have to take back all Rohingya refugees who entered Bangladesh recently and earlier.

>> After deportation of the Rohingya, Myanmar will have to ensure their safety.  

>> To ensure their safety, Myanmar must build ‘safe zones’.

>> Myanmar will have to implement all the recommendation by the Annan commission.

“It’s Myanmar that formed the commission and allowed Kofi Annan to work in their country. Then why won’t they accept his recommendations?” Hasina asked.     

“And if they have any problems with the recommendations, they can resolve those through discussion,” she said.

The prime minister made it clear again that Bangladesh provided the Rohingyas temporary shelter to ease the crisis. “Myanmar must give them citizenship and take them back to their homeland.”

Photo: mostafigur rahman

Photo: mostafigur rahman

She also spoke about the historical background of the Rohingyas and criticised Myanmar for branding them as ‘Bengalis’.

“Rohingyas are Myanmar’s citizens. Now they are snatching their citizenship away in phases and forcing them out of the country.”

“Rohingyas are Burmese. Why are they being called ‘Bengalis’? They lived in Myanmar for hundreds of years. Myanmar is their ancestral land,” Hasina said.

About the refugees, she said Bangladesh sheltered them on humanitarian grounds.

“Little children, women - we can’t treat them inhumanely,” she said.

‘Don’t blame Suu Kyi’

Many of the MPs who took part in the discussion criticised Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not speaking against the brutal treatment of the Rohingyas.

Hasina, however, differed with her colleagues about the Nobel peace laureate.

“Myanmar had been ruled by the junta for a long time. Democracy has just started its journey there. Legal bars were put there to keep Suu Kyi away from the office of heads of government and state. 

“She has been given the charge of foreign ministry,” the prime minister said.

Hasina, the daughter of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, urged all to consider the real power of Suu Kyi, the daughter of the Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar.

“How will she exercise her power? The military has more representatives even in parliament there (than her party has). Their words are final in policymaking,” Hasina explained.

‘Rohingya insurgents gave chance’
Prime Minister Hasina blamed the Rohingya insurgents for creating the current situation by attacking Myanmar security forces on Aug 25, hours after the commission headed by former UN chief Kofi Annan presented the recommendations in its report.

Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army or ARSA claimed credit for the attacks, and these were retaliated with an army operation still going on in Rakhine State, forcing hundreds of thousands of the ethnic minority group to flee to Bangladesh.

And in response to reports that the Myanmar Army planted land mines along the border, the security forces pointed their finger at ARSA. After the group declared a truce, Myanmar said it ‘would not negotiate with terrorists’.

“What have they (Rohingya insurgents) achieved by killing 10 policemen and five army officers? This has led to the torture of their own people.

“They have created the ground (for the army) to torture their people,” she said.
The prime minister demanded an end to such ‘terrorist’ activities.
But Hasina noted that Myanmar has not responded to Bangladesh’s proposal for a joint operation against the insurgents.

‘Muslims must unite’

The prime minister called on the Muslims across the globe to move forward over the Rohingya and other issues that are displacing Muslims.

“I see a trend of assault on Muslims across the world. Muslim refugees are roaming around here and there,” she said.

She referred to the image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body that washed up on a Turkish shore after the capsize of a migrant boat.

“We’ve seen Aylan’s body on the shore. Now we are seeing bodies of children in the Naf river. Why?”

“If the entire Muslim Ummah could feel this and get united, no one could torture them,” she added.

Nearly 100 bodies of Rohingyas washed up on Bangladesh shore from Myanmar, purportedly killed in boat capsizes or in the army operation.

Boats sinking with hundreds of Muslims fleeing war in the Middle East are a regular event in the Mediterranean over past few years.

Hasina also alerted the people about those who are trying to derive political or financial benefits from the Rohingya crisis.