Rohingya refugee crisis: Solution safe zone
12:00 AM, September 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:31 PM, September 13, 2017

Take back all Rohingyas

PM says Myanmar must do it; JS adopts resolution urging int'l community to mount pressure on Myanmar, calls for establishing a safe zone for Rohingyas under UN supervision

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament last night criticised Myanmar for carrying out atrocities on the Rohingyas and said it must take back every Rohingya from Bangladesh, and ensure their safe accommodation and security in Myanmar.

Myanmar has created the crisis and it would have to resolve it, she said, adding, “Myanmar must take back every Rohingya who has entered Bangladesh so far and who are coming in now. As a neighbouring country, we can cooperate with Myanmar to rehabilitate them in their country.”

She was speaking on a motion on the Rohingya issue adopted in parliament last night.

Ruling Awami League MP Dipu Moni placed the motion, which was adopted unanimously by voice vote following a three-hour discussion. At least 16 lawmakers, including opposition leader Raushan Ershad and a number of senior ministers, took part in the discussion.

Through the resolution, the House urged the United Nations and the international community to exert strong diplomatic pressures on Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas, ensure their safe accommodation and give them citizenship rights.

The resolution was passed in the wake of fresh refugee inflow from Myanmar, triggered by what the UN calls ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Myanmar military in the Rakhine state following insurgent attacks on police posts and an army base on August 25.

Hasina and the other lawmakers made several specific proposals for Myanmar and the international community, including the creation of a “safe zone” in Myanmar for the Rohingyas under UN supervision, and the implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission's recommendations on Rakhine state for a permanent solution to the crisis.

Hasina said, “I have no language to criticise Myanmar … .” She said the Rohingyas had been living there for several decades and a former Myanmar prime minister had admitted that Rohingyas were indeed Myanmar citizens.

“But in 1978, the Myanmar military junta first launched the brutality on the Rohingyas, forcing them to leave their own country. In 2015, the then Myanmar regime took away the Rohingyas right to vote. We don't understand why successive Myanmar regimes carried out such atrocities on a particular community when the country is comprised of different groups.”

She said from the very beginning, Bangladesh has been protesting the atrocities against the Rohingyas and has been requesting Myanmar to take them back to their country.

“But paying no heed to our calls, they are sending Rohingyas to Bangladesh afresh … ,” she said, adding that the repression on the Rohingyas had reached beyond description this time.

Recalling the atrocities carried out by the Pakistan army on Bangalees, especially women and children, during the Liberation War in 1971, Hasina said Myanmar was carrying out exactly the same brutality on Rohingyas.

“Women are being raped and tortured, children are being killed, and houses are being set on fire in Rakhine area just like the Pakistan army did in 1971.”

Sharing her experience as a refugee abroad, after the murder of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, she said she knew it very well how it feels to be a refugee abroad.

“That's why we are giving shelter to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds as we are human beings.”

Bangladesh wants friendship with all countries including Myanmar, she said, adding, “I will ask the Myanmar government to think about the consequences of snatching the voting rights and citizenship of the Rohingyas.”

Hasina said she had assured Myanmar leaders that her government would not allow anyone to use Bangladesh's territory to carry out insurgency in Myanmar. “We even suggested joint patrols to arrest perpetrators who are carrying out attacks on Myanmar's law enforcement agencies.”

Criticising the attackers, she asked why they were giving the Myanmar authorities excuses to launch atrocities on the Rohingyas.

Censuring Myanmar, the PM said, “What is the fault of the children? Why are you killing the children and innocent people for the fault of certain people [who carry out attack]. We cannot accept this.

“Dead bodies of many children like Aylan are lying on the banks of the Naf river,” she said in an emotional voice.

Lawmakers' last night came down heavily on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence regarding the ongoing brutality on the Rohingyas and for saying that the world media was lying about the genocide.

Some even called upon the Nobel Committee to withdraw the Nobel Prize awarded to her for her contribution to peace.

Hasina said, “We will have to understand how much power she has at the policy level to run Myanmar.”

She warned all not to make political gains or build fortunes using the Rohingya crisis.

Hasina said that Bangladesh would be able to feed and provide shelter to three to five lakh Rohingyas as it can do so for the 16 crore inhabitants of the country. 

She welcomed assistance in this regard.

The PM said she would leave on September 16 to attend an UNGA programme where she would raise the issue prominently.

Earlier taking part in the discussion, MPs termed the ongoing brutality on the Rohingyas genocide and urged the international community to file complaints against Myanmar with the international criminal court.

BIOMETRIC REG STARTS

The government yesterday started recording biometric data of Rohingyas as part of its efforts to document refugees entering Bangladesh, reports our Cox's Bazar correspondent.

The Department of Immigration and Passports began the registration at 8:00pm ahead of Hasina's visit to Cox's Bazar today.

Sufia Khatun was the first biometrically registered Rohingya refugee. She was documented at Kutupalong enrolment station.

A total of 17 enrolment stations would be set up and two stations, the other at Balukhali, have already started operating. The government would later distribute IDs to the registered Rohingyas.

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