Force Myanmar to take back Rohingyas: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks at an interactive dialogue
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks at an interactive dialogue “A conversation with Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina” — at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York at September 25, 2019. Photo: PID

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the world must take all measures to compel Myanmar to create conditions enabling the Rohingyas' safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation to their ancestral homes.

"Rohingya crisis is a formidable challenge for Bangladesh … we want a peaceful and immediate resolution of the crisis. Myanmar has created the crisis and the solution lies in Myanmar," she said.

The prime minister made the comments while participating in an interactive dialogue — "A conversation with Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina" — at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) here on Wednesday afternoon local time.

The premier also placed a four-point proposal to fight terrorism and violent extremism terming the twin social menaces as a significant challenge to Bangladesh's economic progress and humanity.

She said,"I would like to propose the following steps in order to fight against terrorism and violent extremism:"

Firstly – the source of supply of arms to the terrorists must be stopped; secondly – the flow of financing to the terrorists and their outfits must be stopped; thirdly – the divisions within societies must be removed and fourthly – the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes through dialogue for a win-win situation must be pursued.

Sheikh Hasina said the government of Myanmar, through a planned atrocity, cleansed Rohingya minority from Northern Rakhine State. "The Rohingyas fled violence and atrocities and we opened our border to shelter them on humanitarian ground," she said.

The prime minister said the government is providing humanitarian support to the best of its ability to the Rohingyas.

Sheikh Hasina said the international community, particularly the EU, China and the USA, have been extremely helpful to Bangladesh in dealing with the crisis.

"We also urge you all to visit the Rohingya camps at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. We believe, if you visit those camps, you will be shaken by their horrifying stories of atrocities at the hands of the Myanmar security forces and local vigilantes," she said.

She continued: "I believe seeing their plight would wring your heart and you would want to see the end of their painful predicament the soonest."

The prime minister said this humane decision came from their own experience in 1971 during the war of independence when 10 million of people from Bangladesh took refuge in neighbouring India.

"I, myself, also became a refugee when my father, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with 18 members of my family were brutally killed on August 15, 1975," she said.

Sheikh Hasina went on saying: "My younger sister, Rehana and I survived as we were abroad at that time. We were barred to return to Bangladesh for nearly six years by the then military dictator Ziaur Rahman and had to live as refugees in India."

Elaborating her government's steps to contain terrorism and violent extremism, Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken a "Zero Tolerance" policy against terrorism as it believes that terrorists do not belong to any religion or boundaries.

"We have equipped our law enforcement agencies and taken steps to socially isolate those indulged in the social vices," she said.

The premier said the government has also taken digital measures to stem the spread of lies and hate narratives. "In countering terrorism, we have excellent cooperation with both regional and global partners," she said.

As a result, she said, since the Holey Artisan attack on July 1, 2016, there has been no major incident. "Our people remain increasingly vigilant as we are committed to ensuring the safety of our people and supporting security situation beyond our borders," she said.