Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Tuesday said Myanmar’s proposal to take back Rohingyas might be a strategy to lessen international pressure on the country.
“We are aware that Myanmar can buy time in the name of verification to repatriate its people and in the implementation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission report,” he added.
The foreign minister was speaking as the chief guest at a roundtable styled “The Rohingya Crisis: Measures taken by Bangladesh and way forward” organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies (BIISS) at its auditorium in the capital.
He said keeping the Myanmar’s possible strategy in mind, Bangladesh has proposed a joint verification while Myanmar proposed a unilateral one to determine the qualification of repatriation of Rohingyas in a credible manner.
Mahmood said Bangladesh also proposed involvement of UN agencies like IOM and UNHCR at all stages of repatriation process.
He said Bangladesh has put emphasis on repatriation of all the Rohingyas taken shelter in Bangladesh since the beginning.
The minister said international community has to continue its pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
Mentioning that the Rohingya crisis has two dimensions, the minister said firstly, Myanmar has to grant Rohingyas citizenship and secondly the country has to abolish state policy of discrimination against the forcibly displaced Myanmar people.
The displaced people must to be allowed to lead normal life and in this regard the continuation of the pressure of international community is a must, he maintained.
Mahmood went on saying that Bangladesh wants immediate and total implementation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission report on Rohingya crisis.
Terming the repatriation “a complex and prolonged process”, the minister said Myanmar has to play main role in this regard.
“They have to create congenial atmosphere for repatriation besides ensuring security and livelihood for the displaced people in Rakhine state,” he continued.
Mahmood said Rohingya crisis is not only an internal issue of Myanmar; rather it is a regional issue that affects the entire humanity.
“Bangladesh has no role in creating the crisis and that the solutions also lie in Myanmar’s hand, however, only for repatriation of the displaced Myanmar people, both the countries have to maintain communication,” he maintained.
He also said without continuation of international pressure, monitoring and assistance, it will be difficult to keep Myanmar’s eagerness to repatriate its citizens in the long run.
Citing that Bangladesh wants peaceful solution for Rohingya crisis, he said, “We are working hard by resorting to bilateral, multilateral, and regional diplomacy in this regard.”
“Bangladesh has also full support of international community in its diplomatic efforts,” he claimed.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque also spoke on the occasion.
The state minister said Bangladesh has not declared Rohingyas as refugee as it could delay the repatriation process.
“Because, as per Refugee Convention, a refugee couldn’t be repatriated against his will and a stateless refugee also couldn’t be repatriated,” he added.
“We are working with the OIC member countries especially with those who have bilateral relations with Myanmar and their relations matter,” he further added.
Shahriar also said that Bangladesh could create a strong voice in ASEAN countries though the organisation is not permitted to discuss political issues.
The state minister also said the United Nations Security Council resolution is not only the solution for the crisis, though Bangladesh does not want to say that there will be no resolution.
“Security Council is important but Security Council resolution is not the only solution,” he said.
The state minister said three major powers -- the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) -- are strongly with Bangladesh and this will help find a solution to Rohingya crisis at the earliest.
Shahriar said the USA, the UK and the EU gave Myanmar a confidence during their transformation to democracy.
“These three parties are agreed on our position, and they understand and know well about the current perspective. We’re hopeful,” he said.
The foreign secretary said though our civil society is very vibrant on different issues, it is not vocal over the Rohingya crisis.
“I would like to urge them to raise their voice about the crisis,” he added.
The secretary said, “During all hard times, India remains beside Bangladesh and the country has also stood by us over Rohingya issue.”
Terming the Rohingya crisis “a multi-dimensional and complex crisis”, he said the foreign ministry has been working tirelessly to solve it.
“Not only after the beginning of the recent influx, we are working from much earlier to solve the issue in a friend and amicable way keeping our friendly and neighbourly relations with Myanmar intake,” he said.
“Thanks to our efforts, we could turn the attention of the international community to the crisis and they have come forward to help Rohingyas,” he added.
The foreign secretary said Bangladesh is almost sure there will be no third country settlement and the only solution is to send them back to Myanmar.
Major General AKM Abdur Rahman, director general of BIISS, delivered introductory speech at the event presided over by its Chairman Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad.
Former foreign secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury and former adviser to the caretaker government CM Shafi Sami, among others, delivered speech at the event.
Disaster Management and Relief Ministry joint secretary M Habibul Kabir Chowdhury briefed the participants on relief distribution operations for Rohingyas.
Two high officials of Bangladesh Armed Forces Division delivered statements regarding relief operations carried out by the armed forces division.
Besides, experts including former diplomats, senior government officials, military officials, academics and media personalities spoke on the occasion.