BNP against PM’s proposal to create ‘safe zones’ for Rohingyas
Dhaka: Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Sunday opposed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's proposal for creating 'safe zones' for Rohingyas in Myanmar terming it a 'conspiratorial and dangerous' move.
The party also renewed its call for creating a national unity to face the Rohingya crisis and successfully repatriate Myanmar citizens taken shelter in Bangladesh in the face of genocide and severe persecution in their homeland.
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain made the call while presenting the party's four-point proposal for tackling the Rohingya crisis at a roundtable discussion.
The party's proposals include creating a national unity to put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis and take back its citizens ensuring their citizenship, rights and dignity, recognising those taken shelter in the country from Myanmar as refugees and intensifying diplomatic efforts to involve the international community and the UN to put a serious pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya problem permanently.
The BNP leader also proposed the government to follow two repatriation agreements signed during BNP's rules in 1978 and 1992 to have a sustainable solution to the refugee problem.
The party arranged the programme titled 'Genocide in Myanmar and the Role of Bangladesh' at a city hotel. Ex-ambassador M Serajul Islam presented the keynote paper at the programme.
Diplomats from the USA, the UK, Canada, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the Maldives, the EU, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, representatives from the UNDP and Democratic International, politicians, academicians and ex-ambassadors participated in it.
Mosharraf said, "The Prime Minister talked about safe zones in her address to the United Nations' General Assembly. It's a vague term. We think any safe zone will be harmful to and dangerous for both Bangladesh and Rohingyas. It's also against our national interest. So, we reject the proposal for creating the safe zone."
He also called upon the government not to pursue the safe zone concept in resolving the Rohingya crisis. "We want to describe safe zone as a conspiratorial term."
The BNP leader said a national unity is crucial to have a permanent solution to the Rohingya problem mounting pressure on Myanmar to take back its citizens and ensure food, shelter and security of the refugees for a temporary period.
He criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for rejecting BNP's call for creating a national unity, saying she is doing politics over Rohingya issue.
In his welcome address, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said tackling the Rohingya problem is a big challenge for the nation. "We think this problem will create a disaster and socio-economic and political problems for us if we fail to face it effectively."
He said though the entire world and the people of Bangladesh are vocal against Myanmar's ethnic cleansing and genocide against Rohingyas, the government's role is questionable in facing the problem.
BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said the Prime Minister's proposal for creating safe zones is nothing but a 'fallacy' as this concept proved ineffective in many countries, including Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Ruanda and Iraq.
He also alleged that the big powers in the region are inciting ultra nationalism by supporting Myanmar's ethnic cleansing.
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said the Rohingya crisis is getting critical gradually as the government is unable to tackle it properly.
He urged the government to hold discussions with political parties to work out an effective strategy to overcome the problem.
Manna also suggested BNP to take political programmes to put pressure on both Bangladesh and Myanmar governments to resolve the problem.
Right activist Advocate Elina Khan urged the government to be more active and take prompt steps to overcome the Rohingya problem.
She also urged BNP to work for mobilising international support and creating world opinion in favour of resolving Rohingya problem.
BNP standing committee members Mahbubur Rahman, Abdul Moyeen Khan, vice chairman Morshed Khan, chairperson's advisers Reaz Rahman, Sukomal Barua, DU Prof Mahbub Ullah, Bangladesh Bank ex-governor Dr Salehuddin, ex-foreign secretary Hemayet Uddin, former secretaries Mofazzal Karim, Khan Mohammad Ibrahim, ex-ambassadors Iftekharul Karim, Mahmud Hasan, Jahangirnagar University professor Dilara Chowdhury and DU professor Asif Nazrul, among others, spoke at the programme.