Myanmar not sincere about taking Rohingyas back: Foreign minister

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Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has reiterated his frustration over Myanmar’s continued reluctance to take back the Rohingyas who are sheltered in Cox’s Bazar, alleging that they are not sincere about the repatriation of its own people.

He also warned that the prolonging the crisis will create pockets of radicalization, which will affect everyone as terrorists have no boundaries.

“The Myanmar government agreed, again and again, to take back their people [the Rohingyas]. But they lack the sincerity,” Momen said at the inauguration of a two-day photo exhibition, titled “Flash on Rohingya Genocide,” at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in Dhaka on Thursday.

“We have provided Myanmar with the names of more than 100,000 Rohingyas, but they have so far cleared only 8,000 names,” the foreign minister said, adding that two attempts have been made to begin the repatriation process, both of which were unsuccessful due to Myanmar’s failure to create a conducive environment for the persecuted people.

More than 730,000 Rohingyas have crossed over to Bangladesh in the latest episode of exodus, which began in August 2017, fleeing violent persecution carried out by Myanmar security forces and civilians.

Detailing the atrocities by the Myanmar security forces and their civilian allies, he said: “Bangladesh is keen to send them [the Rohingyas] back, but not by force. We want to send them in a safe, secure and dignified manner.

“The problem lies with Myanmar, and so does the solution,” Dr Momen said, stressing that Dhaka wants to resolve this problem with Naypyidaw amicably.

There is a trust deficit between the Myanmar government and the Rohingyas, he further said, reiterating his suggestions for the authorities concerned to take some Rohingya community leaders from the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to the Rakhine state, where the Rohingyas are from, to see the condition for themselves, and put in place a mechanism comprising civilians from other countries to monitor the repatriation.

But Myanmar is not agreeable to these suggestions, the foreign minister said.

Referring to the recent resolution adopted at the United Nations General Assembly, the foreign minister said that, apart from a few countries, the whole world is with Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.

“Four countries that are Myanmar’s neighbor told us that they voted against the resolution because their neighbor is strong,” he said, without elaboration.

Dhaka is pursuing this issue bilaterally and multilaterally, as well as supporting the ongoing judicial processes at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, he added.

Momen told the program, attended by, among others, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller, that if the Rohingya crisis continues, there is every likelihood that pockets of radicalization will be created, which will affect everyone.

“Terrorists have no boundaries,” he added.

China and Japan want to do business in Myanmar, but with this problem in place, they cannot be successful, the foreign minister commented.

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