State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has made a fervent call on the international community to engage in depth with Myanmar in a meaningful way to ensure the creation of conducive environment in Rakhine and find a lasting solution for the unfortunate Rohingya community.
“Repatriation of all displaced people to Myanmar remains a compelling priority for Bangladesh. The displaced Rohingya are also desperate to return home in safety and dignity at the earliest possible,” he said.The State Minister was addressing a webinar on “The Rohingya Crisis: Response of the International Community and the Repatriation Process.” Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organized the webinar on Wednesday in which five papers were presented.
Shahriar said despite intense bilateral diplomatic efforts from Bangladesh side as well as repeated calls of the international community and scores of resolutions both at various UN bodies as well as other regional bodies like EU failed to bring about any positive change in Myanmar’s mindset, policy, and approach.
“Till date, not a single Rohingya could return to Myanmar, though it was supposed to begin in January 2018 under the bilateral instruments we signed with Myanmar,” he added.
“Myanmar authorities did not demonstrate genuine political will to resolve the crisis. Rather, they have attempted to make falsified and misrepresented facts, unsubstantiated claims, and laid unjustifiable blame on Bangladesh to deny their own obligations and thereby misguided the international community,” Shahriar said.
At the same time, he said the business as usual approach of the international community by means of increased bilateral trade, investment and development assistance have undoubtedly encouraged Myanmar to flout the decisions of international mechanisms and continue mass atrocities on its minorities with a greater sense of impunity.
He said under the trilateral platform involving China, some advancement was foreseen following the Foreign Secretary level virtual meeting of January 2021. However, recent political developments and ongoing instability in Myanmar since February 1, 2021 entail further uncertainty in repatriation.Shahriar further said the displaced people are not expected to opt for return on their own volition unless Myanmar creates a conducive environment in Rakhine and builds confidence among Rohingya.
Myanmar needs to adequately address the fundamental concerns of the displaced Rohingya which include among others: safety and security, arrangements for normal living in places of origin, and issuance of proper identity document, he added.
The ongoing judicial proceedings both at the ICJ and the ICC are of utmost importance to put an end to Myanmar’s long history of persecution, deep rooted culture of impunity.
While Bangladesh has been playing a proactive role in relevant international fora to uphold justice and rights for Rohingya, the international community must remain focused, vigorously pursue accountability and justice though these international judicial mechanisms. “In this connection, I sincerely thank the Government of the Netherlands and the Government of Canada for their joint expression of interest to assist the ICJ genocide case against Myanmar.”
Ambassador M Humayun Kabir, President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute delivered a presentation on “the West and the Rohingya Crisis”. A presentation titled “ASEAN, Myanmar and the Rohingya Crisis” was delivered by Brig Gen M Sakhawat Hossain (Retd.). Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of the University of Dhaka presented a paper on “The Role of India and China in the Rohingya Repatriation Process”.
Another paper titled “Multilateral Organizations and the Rohingya Crisis: The UN, EU and OIC” was presented by Md. Delwar Hossain, Director General, Myanmar Wing of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the other hand, Abu Salah Md. Yosuf, Senior Research Fellow, BIISS presented a paper on “The Dilemmas of the US Sanctions against Myanmar”.
“By now, we all are aware how the crisis evolved in Myanmar, and how we, in Bangladesh, have saved the world from a catastrophe when these unfortunate people fled en mass from violence, persecution, atrocities and crimes against humanity at the hands of their own people in their own country 3 years 8 months back in August 2017,” the State Minister for Foreign Affairs said.
As a responsible member of the world community, “we did our part by providing temporary shelter to the Rohingya, sharing our food, and ensuring their basic humanitarian needs as a first responder – even before the international community stepped in.”
Since then, Bangladesh has been spending millions of dollar every year for coordination of massive humanitarian operation, ensuring safety and security in and around camps, improvement of living conditions of displaced Rohingya, restoration of environment, and mitigation of sufferings of host community.
“We also spent over USD 350 million from our own budget to develop an island Bhasan Char with better infrastructure and amenities to relocate a portion of Rohingyas from the over-congested and disaster-prone camps in Cox’s Bazar,” he said and informed that as of now over 18,500 Rohingya relocated to Bhasan Char.
“We are committed to continuing our efforts, albeit, we will have to be remindful of the ongoing political situation of Myanmar. The international community should make a concerted effort to stabilize the situation in Myanmar and effectively prevent any further mass displacement or cross border exodus,” Shahriar added.