Myanmar unresponsive to Bangladesh proposals, runs malicious campaign
The foreign minister has told Dhaka-based foreign diplomats that Bangladesh has always preferred a bilateral solution to the long-standing Rohingya crisis, but Myanmar never responded to any of its proposals.
Rather, they have been running a malicious propaganda terming the Rohingyas ‘illegal migrants from Bangladesh’ and the attackers to their BGP posts as ‘Bengali terrorists’,” AH Mahmood Ali said while briefing them on Sunday at the state guesthouse Padma.
The back-to-back briefings of diplomats of the countries that have missions in Dhaka, except regional countries including ASEAN, came in the wake of a fresh exodus of nearly 300,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine State since Aug 25 violence.
Myanmar is a member of the ASEAN, a bloc of 10 Southeast Asian countries including Indonesia and Malaysia who have reacted to the latest violence in Rakhine State that has caused a huge humanitarian crisis.
A senior official at the foreign ministry said the minister will brief them separately on Monday.
Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya people as its citizens while many in the Buddhist-majority country consider them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.But the latest violence drew worldwide concern as it took place on the day when a commission led by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan submitted its report with recommendations to address the root cause of the problem such as giving them citizenship to ensure basic rights.
In a rare letter to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also expressed concern that the violence could spiral into a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
He said the issue could come up in the general debate of the upcoming UN General Assembly, regular session, which will begin on Sep 12 at the headquarters in New York. The general debate will begin on Sep 19.
During the briefing, the foreign ministry said, the diplomats “highly praised” the government for hosting the Rohingyas for decades and giving shelter to the new refugees fleeing violence.
“They also stressed on the protection of civilians and urged (for a stop to) disproportionate use of force during the ongoing military operation in Rakhine”.
With the latest influx, Ali told them the number of Rohingyas living in Bangladesh has reached about 700,000.
He sought “political support” for them for a permanent solution to the crisis.
“This is creating huge challenge for Bangladesh in terms of providing shelter as well as other humanitarian assistances to them,” he said, highlighting Bangladesh’s bilateral efforts, according to a foreign ministry statement.
He said Myanmar took back 236,599 Rohingyas to their homeland through a bilateral agreement in 1992 when they recognised them as ‘members of Myanmar society’.
Ali said in an attempt to address the security concerns of Myanmar, Bangladesh also proposed to sign MoUs in 2014 on ‘Border Liaison Office and Security Dialogue’.
Bangladesh has also proposed joint inspection, coordinated border patrol, and ‘joint operation’ along the frontier.
“Unfortunately Myanmar has not responded to these proposals,” the foreign minister said.
A house is seen on fire in Gawduthar village, Maungdaw township, in the north of Rakhine state, Myanmar September 7, 2017. Reuters
He also referred to the Annan Commission report and urged the international community to pursue the Myanmar government for “immediate and unconditional implementation” of the recommendations.The foreign ministry said Mahmood Ali also requested the international community to help Bangladesh with urgent humanitarian assistance to address the current crisis.
He sought support for transportation of the Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, and asked them to provide political support to ensure sustainable return of all Myanmar nationals to their homes.
Diplomats from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, US, UK, and EU and representatives from UN Resident Coordinator, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, IOM, and ICRC attended the first briefing.
The foreign minister briefed the diplomats from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE in the second phase.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and senior officials of the foreign ministry were also present at those briefings.