Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the Commonwealth countries to force Myanmar to stop persecution on its Rohingya citizens and take them back from Bangladesh at the earliest.
"I would like to request you all to discuss the Rohingya issue with utmost importance and exert pressure on the Myanmar government to stop persecution on its citizens [Rohingyas]and take them back at the earliest," she said.
The PM said this while officially inaugurating the 63rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) at the South Plaza on parliament premises.
She said, “Friendship to all, malice to none” is Bangladesh's policy in maintaining relations with foreign countries. "Especially, we're eager to maintain good relations with our neighbours."
Hasina, also the vice patron of the 63rd CPC, said Bangladesh resolved long-standing problems of Ganges water sharing and land boundary dispute with India through signing treaties. "Similarly, maritime boundary problem with India and Myanmar was also resolved amicably."
But the PM said the inhuman persecution inflicted on the Rohingyas in Myanmar's Rakhine State and their forceful expulsion from their homeland has created instability in the region and beyond.
She said over 622,000 Myanmar nationals fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution. After 1978, another 500,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh at different times. "We've given temporary shelter to this huge number of people on humanitarian grounds."
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Jatiya Sangsad are jointly organising the conference with the theme: "Continuing to enhance the high standards of performance of parliamentarians".
The eight-day conference 2017 began on November 1 with the meetings of different committees and sub-committees of the CPA as well as conferences of small branches before the official inauguration.
Hasina said the main aim of the government is to build a hunger-and poverty-free Bangladesh through strengthening the foundation of democratic rule in the country. "Aiming to fulfill the goal, we've framed Vision 2021 and now are implementing the same devising specific plans."
The PM said Bangladesh has been in a journey through the roads of peace, democracy, development and prosperity. "We've already been elevated to a lower middle-income country. We expect that Bangladesh will emerge as a country of middle income on the golden jubilee of our Independence in 2021 and as a developed one by 2041."
"Thoughtless acts of a section of people are claiming innocent lives. Militancy is not a problem of a particular country, rather it became a global phenomenon," she said.
The PM mentioned that a few days back, eight precious lives were lost on a New York road. "We've to be united to get rid of this menace."
Talking about the climate change and its impact, she said Bangladesh is the worst victim of the climate change.
"This year, we experienced excessive precipitation and recurrence of flooding that washed away our vast localities and damaged standing crops. We expect immediate implementation of the promises made at different times to offset the adverse impacts of climate change," she said.
In Bangladesh, Hasina said people are striving hard to build a poverty- and hunger-free democratic society.
She also said independent and strong mass media are the vigilant watchdog of democracy.
In the past few years, Bangladesh witnessed a huge expansion of mass media. "The freedom of mass media and people's right to information has been ensured," Hasina added.
CPA President and Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Secretary-General Akbar Khan, CPA treasurer Vicki Dunn, and Commonwealth youth representative Aiman Sadique spoke on the occasion.
Shirin Sharmin read out the message of the patron of CPA Queen Elizabeth (2nd) and video message of Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland was screened at the programme.