Dhaka seeks safe zone for Rohingyas in Rakhine | 2019-02-10

Dhaka seeks safe zone for Rohingyas in Rakhine

Foreign minister tells daily sun

Gautam Lahiri

10 February, 2019 12:00 AM printer

NEW DELHI: Bangladesh has sought regional cooperation in setting up a safe zone for the Rohingya community in Rakhine state of Myanmar.

“We want a safe zone for Rohingya people in Rakhine and it should be monitored by India, China and other ASEAN nations,” Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said here on Friday night while talking with the daily sun.

To a question, Momen said the Joint River Commission will sit for a meeting soon to discuss water sharing of all 54 common rivers between Bangladesh and India.

During the India visit by Abdul Momen, Bangladesh High Commission organised the closed-door meeting with a select group of journalists in New Delhi.

Bangladesh High Commissioner Syed Muazzem Ali hosted a dinner at the mission in honour of Abdul Momen. 

Ambassadors and diplomats from different countries were also present.

After the dinner, Momen made an exclusive interaction with journalists in presence of Indian High commissioner Riva Ganguly Das.

Talking to this correspondent, Momen said that he requested his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj to put forward the proposal to Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

In fact, Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister U Kan Tin is no more in charge of the foreign ministry. Presently, Myanmar’s State Councillor Suu Kyi holds the foreign office portfolio.

Regarding the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Momen informed that the Indian premier is very positive about the regional cooperation in resolving the Rohingya crisis.

“When I shared my idea with the Indian premier about ensuring a safe haven for Rohingyas in Rakhine, Modi described the proposal innovative,” Momen said.

Momen left New Delhi for Dhaka on Saturday afternoon after wrapping up his three-day official visit to the neighbouring country.

He said our main objective is to ensure the safe return of Rohingyas to their motherland.

“There may be developed radicalism and uncertainty may loom in the region that may hinder the regional peace and stability. As an overpopulated country, Bangladesh has been facing huge challenges to bear the burden of over 8 lakh Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar.”  Momen described the Rohingya issue that ‘a great danger is looming large’.

“Even India’s effort to make coastal security might be jeopardised if this problem is not solved immediately. If security is not ensured, Bangladesh’s economic growth may face a setback.”

Momen further said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has saved the world from seeing huge killings, otherwise it could have been the second largest “genocide” after the World War II.

Over 24,000 people were killed, 18,000 women raped and 120,000 houses destroyed, 1, 15000 houses were burnt in Myanmar Rakhine state.

“If we hadn’t given them shelter, there could have been more disaster,” Momen mentioned.

When asked about his visit to India, the foreign minister said “it was very good and productive”.

“The way Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Sushma Ji (Sushma Swaraj) and even the former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh received me, I was simply overwhelmed,” he continued.

About Teesta water-sharing deal, Momen said Bangladesh wants resolution to all outstanding issues through discussion.

He also informed that on the occasion of 50 years of Liberation, India and Bangladesh will jointly complete a biopic on Bangabandhu and a documentary on the liberation war.

“We would be able to solve all outstanding problems with our neighbouring countries through discussion as Bangladesh and India are now enjoying a ‘very warm’ relation.”

About the Indian 8 billion dollars Line of Credit (LOC) to Bangladesh, the foreign minister said that the Indian authorities have been asked to expedite the process.