Dhaka – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked Myanmar government to take the Rohingya Muslims back to Rakhine as hundreds of thousands of them crossed into Bangladesh fleeing ethnic violence at their home.
Hasina made the call while addressing a reception accorded by Bangladeshi community in New York as she is in a visit to USA to attend the 72nd UN General Assembly.
The Bangladesh has been making continued diplomatic efforts to return all the Rohingya to their homeland, bur Myanmar was not paying any heed to the calls, she said.
“Rather, Myanmar is laying landmines along border to stop return of Rohingya to their homeland,” she said inviting the leaders of the OIC to visit Bangladesh to see sufferings of the minority Muslims on the ground.
The Rohingya has been living for centuries in Rakhine, but the Myanmar has been propagating that they are illegal migrants from Bengal. They are Myanmar nationals, and they must be taken back to their homes,” the Prime Minister said.
The crisis has its root in Myanmar and its solution has to be found in Myanmar, she said thanking the international community for extending support for Bangladesh to address the Rohingya issue.
Hasina’s call came after Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in an televised address to the diplomats call international community to visit her country. She said her government would start a verification process for the repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims.
Prime Minister Hasina also called the Muslim nations to forge unity to resolve the crisis before it is too late.
“I call upon OIC countries to show a unity to solve the Rohingya crisis before it is too late,” Hasina told a meeting of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation in New York at a sideline event of the General Assembly.
Dhaka is ready to join any initiative that OIC plans to take to address the crisis.
More than 421,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after Myanmar army launched offensive against suspected Rohingya insurgents in response to a series of attacks on army bases and police post in Rakhine state on August 25.
The civilians crossed into Bangladesh alleged the army and Buddhist mobs killed many Muslims and burnt their homes down.
Hasina also sought urgent humanitarian assistance from the Muslim countries to handle the influx of Rohingya fleeing homes in the face of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
She told the OIC leaders that 60 percent of the Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh are children. She said she personally visited the area to listen to their sufferings as they crossed land and rivers to reach a shelter.
“It is an unbearable human catastrophe. I myself have visited them and listened to the stories of their grave sufferings, particularly of women and children.”
“I would like you all to come to Bangladesh and hear from them about the atrocities in Myanmar,” Hasina was quoted to have saying.
Myanmar has been spearheading a state-sponsored propaganda to dub Rohingyas as ‘Bengalis’ which must be stopped and the country must acknowledge them as their nationals.
OIC Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen also spoke on the occasion, among others, when the Bangladesh premier said “all forms of atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims must be stopped immediately”.
All forcibly displaced Rohingya must also be allowed to return to their homeland in Myanmar with complete safety, security and dignity, Hasina added.
She proposed creation of ‘safe zones’ inside Myanmar to protect the innocent civilians, especially women, children and elderly persons and called for implementation of Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations “immediately, unconditionally and entirely”.
Until the arrival of the latest surges of refugees, Bangladesh has been hosting another 400,000 of refugees for three decades.