Dhaka doubtful about repatriation proposal It may be a Myanmar tactic to reduce int’l pressure, says foreign ministe

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Abul-Hassan-Mahmood-Ali41Dhaka: Bangladesh appears to be doubtful about the recent proposal of Myanmar to take back part of Rohingya Muslim populace of Rakhine state, who had fled to Bangladesh to escape the atrocities of the Myanmar security forces in October last year and since August 25.

“The proposal of Myanmar to take back part of Rohingya Muslims may be its tactic to reduce international pressure and concerns,” Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told a seminar on Rohingya crisis organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at its auditorium in the capital yesterday.

He also said that since August 25, approximately 3,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed in the hands of Myanmar security forces, and 284 Rohingya villages burnt and destroyed.

The minister said Myanmar, through its own verification process, may delay the implementation of Annan Commission recommendations and limit the number of Rohingyas eligible to be repatriated citing different excuses.

The foreign minister said Bangladesh is in favour of the principle adopted in 1992 that will allow repatriation of all Rohingyas, he added.

“Bangladesh wants the involvement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the process,” minister Ali said, placing great emphasis on the continued

international pressure. Myanmar has so far forced more than 9 lakh Rohingya Muslims, which is nearly half of total population of the world’s largest persecuted community, to cross into Bangladesh citing different excuses since 1978, said the foreign minister.  “From August 25 till date more than 5 lakh Rohingyas have taken shelter to Bangladesh. Adding this number to those who previously had to come, the number now stands at more than 9 lakh,” he said

Besides, he added that 4 lakh Rohingyas are now living in different countries leaving only 4-5 lakh to remain in IDP (internally displacement camps) and scattered villages.

The total population of Rohingya is 17-18 lakh, said the foreign minister.

Minister Ali said that the international concern over indiscriminate violence by Myanmar military is not being able to stop them implementing their long-term plan to drive Rohingyas from their homeland.

The Rohingya issue is the problem of Myanmar and it will have to face it, he said.

The foreign minister said that after 2012 Dhaka has tried to improve the bilateral relationship with Naypyidaw, but Myanmar appeared to have been non-responsive.

Presided over by BIISS chairman ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, the seminar was addressed, among others, by state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam, foreign secretary Shahidul Haque, disaster management and relief secretary Shah Kamal and BIISS director general maj gen Abdur Rahman.

Academicians, serving and retired senior civil and military officials, ex and incumbent diplomats and researchers attended the seminar and took part in the open discussion.

To a question, state minister Shahriar said that non-adoption of a resolution in recent debate at the United Nations security council does not mean that there will be none in the future.

He said that the countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union played important role in bringing Myanmar to the nations of ‘democracy’ and these countries are now are working in Bangladesh’s favour.

Opinion was floated from the audience to establish a ‘focal point’ to speak on the issue rather than statements by different ministers.

The attendees all but appreciated the government’s handling of the crisis.

To a question, foreign secretary said that Bangladesh is engaged with China, Russia and India with regard to the crisis.

To another question, he said that Bangladesh is in touch with 25 countries that house Rohingyas.

“You’ll not see all the diplomatic efforts,” he added.

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