Marking the third anniversary of the latest round of massive Rohingya exodus from Myanmar to Bangladesh, ActionAid Bangladesh in collaboration with, Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS), University of Dhaka; Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), Brac University organised a two day long international e-conference titled, "Connecting the Rohingya Diaspora: Highlighting the Global Displacement."
The inaugural session of the conference started at 6 pm on Tuesday.
Manzoor Hasan OBE, executive director, Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University, made the opening remarks in the session.
Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen was present in the conference as chief guest and Cherno Marenah, solicitor general and legal secretary at Gambia's ministry of justice was the guest of honour.
"By connecting the Rohingya diaspora living all over the world, we can learn how they can step in to fight the systematic persecution and injustice against Rohingya people. To exert pressure on Myanmar and to ensure justice for the Rohingyas, the world needs to hear more from them. The Rohingya diaspora can serve as the voice of the refugees who fled from genocide and are now leading measurable lives in the refugee camps," said Cherno Marenah.
Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen appealed to the international community to exert pressure on Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingya refugees.
"There is visible lack of political will and decisive action in the part of Myanmar government to improve the situation in Rakhine and to repatriate the forcibly displaced Rohingyas. International community should pressure Myanmar government to start time-bound repatriation programme, to allow civilian observers in Rakhine to monitor and guarantee security of the returnees and to ensure that Myanmar government does not erase the evidence of genocide and human rights violations," said Masud bin Momen.
He added that if the repatriation attempt is delayed further, Rohingyas and the host community will be utterly frustrated and a humanitarian catastrophe will occur in the near future.
Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of International Relations and director of Centre for Genocide Studies delivered a presentation at the conference.
"Altogether around 1,000 national and international stakeholders will be connected in the two-day conference over Zoom thousands more will join via social media. In the closing ceremony of the conference, Dhaka Declaration-II (2020) will be presented and shared among the stakeholders for the way forward in the Rohingya issue toward justice," says Dr Imtiaz.
Farah Kabir, country director, ActionAid Bangladesh delivered a vote of thanks to all participants at the end of the inaugural session.
The inaugural session was followed by two panel discussions titled "Rohingya Diaspora: Canada, Saudi Arabia and Japan" and "Rohingya Diaspora: UK, USA and Thailand" that consisted of Azeem Ibrahim, director, Center for Global Policy in Washington DC, and KAM Morshed, senior director, Brac respectively.
Azeem Ibrahim in his speech said, "It is not easy for the Rohingya diaspora to go back to their country. Their repatriation is a very complex process. They have been subjected to abuse for over half a century. The Rohingya Diaspora have to unite with other minority communities to resolve this issue".
Bangladesh should pursue Myanmar in an aggressive way together with international community to settle the Rohingya Issue, he urged.
The first Rohingyas came to Cox's Bazar in 1970, said the senior director of Brac, KAM Morshed. He said, "The Rohingyas come to Bangladesh predominantly for two reasons. One being historic and another being the religious similarity. They think people in Bangladesh will show empathy based on shared religious views."
Besides, the first day of the conference saw participation from representatives of the Rohingya diaspora, teacher and researchers from Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Kingdom, United States of America and Thailand, who presented their views and research papers.
The discussants focused on violation of human rights, violence, genocide committed by the Myanmar government and their relations with the other countries. The discussants also spoke on the socioeconomic background and political situation of the Rohingya diaspora, and the process of inclusion in the host countries and their future plans to solve the issue.