Dhaka –Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged leaders in neighbouring Myanmar to repatriate tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims entered in Bangladesh facing persecution back to their homes.
Hasina made the call when national security advisor of Myanmar U Thaung Tun called on the Prime Minister at her office in Dhaka. She also hoped that Bangladesh and Myanmar would engage in dialogue to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“We will solve the problem bilaterally,” she told Tun, who is now in Dhaka on a three-day official visit to Bangladesh.
The influx of Rohingya refugees began anew in October last year when Myanmar military launched a so-called counterinsurgency drive in Rakhine state as the religious minority group claimed that they were tortured at their homeland and was forced to cross the border.
More than 74,000 Rohingya Muslims arrived in Bangladesh at that time, according to an UN estimate.
Bangladesh has long been asking its neighbour to resolve the problem as the Muslim minority group in the Buddhist-majority Burma started crossing the border in the early 1990s as they were driven out of their homesteads.
Ihsanul Karim, press secretary to the Prime Minister, told reporters after the Tuesday’s meeting that Hasina said it was natural to have problems between two neighbouring countries.
”But we are able to resolve the problem through bilateral discussions,” she said citing her efforts in the 1990s to end insurgency by the ethnic minority groups in Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The Prime Minister said about 30,000 registered Myanmar Rohingyas have been living in Bangladesh since long time. But she estimated the actual number is more than 400,000.
Hasina was concerned about the intensified sufferings by the Rohingya during the monsoon season and said Bangladesh is ready to extend all cooperation for repatriation of the Rohingyas.
Karim said the prime minister drew attention of the Myanmar national security adviser to the issue of drug smuggling particularly Yaba sedatives to Bangladesh from Myanmar.
Tun, in response, assured Hasina of all sort of cooperation for eradicating drug smuggling.
The prime minister reiterated her government’s zero tolerance policy against terrorism saying Bangladesh would never allow any armed groups and insurgents to use its land against any neighbouring country.
Tun said that the current focus of his country was to restore internal peace side by side expediting development.
He said national verification system is going on to control the insurgency problem. Yangon wanted peace and development both in Myanmar and Bangladesh as his country is keen to maintain good relations with its neighbours, Thaung Tun said, according to state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency.
Talking about the military to military contacts, Tun said that both the countries were sharing information on security issues. He emphasized enhancement of economic cooperation between the two countries.
Tun said both countries could discuss on the issue of Bangladesh’s proposal for gas import from Myanmar.