Lawmakers from Commonwealth countries have committed their full support for Bangladesh in resolving the Rohingya crisis.
The commitment came yesterday after Dhaka briefed them on the issue during the annual conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in the capital.
Most of the lawmakers, who spoke at the briefing session at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, termed the atrocities against the Rohingyas in Myanmar “genocide”, and said this cannot be “tolerated.”
They also called for adopting a resolution in the conference over the crisis.
Earlier in the morning, inaugurating the 63rd annual CPA conference at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban premises, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged the Commonwealth countries to exert pressure on Myanmar to stop persecution of its Rohingya citizens and take them back from Bangladesh at the earliest.
She noted that Bangladesh is eager to maintain good relations with its neighbors. “But inhuman persecution meted out to the Rohingya population in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and their forceful expulsion from their homeland has created instability in the region and beyond.”
More than 550 delegates from 144 national and provincial parliaments of 44 countries joined the eight-day conference that ends on Wednesday. The CPA has 52 members.
At the briefing session in the afternoon, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali urged the CPA members to take a united stand against all discriminatory policies and activities that run counter to human rights.
After his speech, the floor was given to the delegates. More than a dozen spoke and lauded Bangladesh for its role.
The CPA members said the association should play a stronger role over the issue. It should adopt a resolution supporting Bangladesh's stance and put pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingyas and ensure their safe rehabilitation.
In the concluding speech, CPA Chairperson Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said the proposal for adopting a resolution would be considered very seriously.
She also called upon the delegates to take initiatives for adopting resolutions on the Rohingya issue in their parliaments, and said this would help Dhaka's efforts to resolve the crisis.
The delegates from a number of countries strongly criticised the Myanmar government for persecution of the Rohingyas in Rakhine.
“We have seen genocide in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. We can think of it never again. Genocide is happening in Myanmar and the world is watching… ,” said Salma Ataullahjan, a senator from Canada.
“We appreciate what the Bangladesh government has done, they have done a lot. We know you have your own issues with the flooding, you had horrible flood this year,” she further said.
Amid thumping of desk by delegates, she said the global community can no longer keep quiet.
Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli from Malaysia proposed that the CPA arrange a trip to Cox's Bazar to express solidarity with Rohingyas. “If it is not possible to arrange a trip for all of us, at least a delegation should visit [Cox's Bazar] to express our solidarity with Rohingyas.”
He strongly recommended adopting a resolution over the issue.
Ramli also urged the Myanmar government to give Rohingyas their legitimate rights.
Yasmin Ratansi, a member of the Canadian parliament, criticised the international community for not doing enough to resolve the crisis. “It seems that the world has forgotten them [Rohingyas]. It is a huge issue.”
She also advocated identifying Rohingyas as refugees. “I promise that my country will remain beside Bangladesh.”
Angelo Farrugia, speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta, said, “We need to send a strong message like we did in IPU [Inter Parliamentary Union]. We are completely in solidarity with Bangladesh.”
In its 137th general assembly in St Petersburg on October 15, the IPU adopted a resolution titled “Ending the grave human crisis, persecution and violent attacks on the Rohingya as a threat to international peace and security and ensuring their unconditional and safe return to their homeland in Myanmar.”
Pakistani lawmaker Nafisa Shah said her country supports Bangladesh over the Rohingya issue. She also slated the Myanmar government for carrying out “genocide” against the Rohingyas.
She called upon the Myanmar authorities to take back the Rohingyas to their own country and give them citizenship with equal rights.
More than six lakh Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh since the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown on them on August 25.