Rohingyas’ plight would wring your heart: PM
New York: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the world must take all the measures to force Myanmar to create conditions enabling the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Rohingyas to their place of origin.
"The world must take all the measures to compel Myanmar to create conditions enabling the Rohingyas’ safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation to their ancestral homes," she said, the UNB reported.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing an interactive dialogue 'A conversation with Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina' at Council on Foreign Relations 58 East 68th Street here on Wednesday.
She termed Rohingya crisis a formidable challenge for Bangladesh towards development.
"Through planned atrocities, the government of Myanmar cleansed its Northern Rakhine State of the Rohingya minority. They fled violence and atrocities and we opened our border to shelter them on humanitarian ground," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is providing humanitarian support to the best of its ability to the Rohingyas.
"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 said the international community, particularly the EU, China and the USA, have been extremely helpful to Bangladesh in dealing with the crisis.
Sheikh Hasina urged all to visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, 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,” Sheikh Hasina 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 mentioned that Bangladesh faces climate change as one of the challenges in its development journey.
The frequency and intensity of cyclones, floods and droughts have increased over the years. “My government has, therefore, adopted the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan in 2009,” she said.
Under this plan, Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund was set up with its own resources. Since then, nearly 450 million US dollars have been spent on several hundred projects, mostly on adaptation and a few on mitigation, she added.
The other significant challenge to Bangladesh’s economic progress and humanity is terrorism and violent extremism, Hasina mentioned.
The Prime Minister said the government has taken a “zero tolerance” policy against these social menaces. "We believe that terrorists don’t belong to any religion or boundaries."
She put forward four steps in order to fight against terrorism and violent extremism. These are Must stop the source of supply of arms to the terrorists, must stop the flow of financing to terrorists and their outfits, must remove the divisions within societies and must pursue the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes through dialogue for a win-win situation.
The Prime Minister said the government has equipped law enforcement agencies and taken steps to socially isolate the extremists and terrorists.
"We’ve also taken digital measures to stem the spread of lies and hate narratives. In countering terrorism, we've excellent cooperation with both regional and global partners. As a result, since the Holy Artisan attack on July 1, 2016, there has been no major incident. Our people remain increasingly vigilant as we're committed to ensuring the safety of our people and supporting security situation beyond our borders," she added.
Later, the Prime Minister replied to questions on various issues, including Rohingyas, the unity of Muslim Ummah, the situation in RMG sector, food security, social safety net programmes and women empowerment.
Responding to a question on the Rohingya repatriation, Hasina said Bangladesh had talks with Myanmar and the discussions are still going on and the international community also supported it. "The problem is that these people (Rohingyas) don't want to go back as they feel insecure," she said.
The PM said Myanmar changed its constitution in 1982 without mentioning the Rohingyas as their citizens and called them outsiders. "At one stage of our dialogue, Myanmar agreed to take their nationals back from Bangladesh. But in the Rohingya camps, some people instigated them not to go back home," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she feels that all the UN organisations and other bodies are working and helping the Rohingyas.
The PM said Myanmar should create an atmosphere so that the Rohingyas can go back and live in their own land.
However, she said, the international pressure is very important for the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
Hasina said the government has developed an island and built houses, cyclone shelters and food warehouses to shift the Rohingyas there. "If we can shift them to the island named Bhashanchar, some people will get jobs and children will get the facility of education," she said.
Hasina went on saying, "But somehow it seems to me that the organisations working in Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps don't want these people go back and they (organisations) are trying to prevent them."
About the Muslim Ummah, she said, when she attended the OIC Summit in Makkah, she raised the issue that if there is any problem between the Muslim countries it should be resolved through dialogue or discussion. "But somehow it's not happening and you know wherein the problem lies," she said.
The PM said there are many resourceful countries which cannot use their resources on their own and those who are helping them have some games to play and they have been pursuing the divide-and-rule policy in this regard. "This is very unfortunate and Muslims should realise it," she said.
"Every time in OIC, I raised the issue that the OIC should take some steps. But it's not happening anyway,” she added.
PM's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Ambassador to USA M Ziauddin, Principal Coordinator on the SDG Affairs at the PMO Md Abul Kalam Azad, CFR President Richard N. Haas and distinguished members of CFR were present at the event.