Myanmar has not kept its pledge of creating conditions conducive to Rohingya repatriation, and is spreading lies about Bangladesh, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said yesterday.
“In recent times, the media published reports of a Myanmar minister saying that Bangladesh was responsible for the delay in Rohingya repatriation; Bangladesh is not cooperating. Such a statement is blatantly false,” he told reporters after a meeting with foreign diplomats at state guest house Padma in the capital.
He referred to a statement by Kyaw Tint Swe, minister for the Office of the State Counselor, Myanmar, who during a recent visit to Japan said Bangladesh was not cooperating with Myanmar in its repatriation efforts and not providing residence cards among all refugees who had fled Myanmar’s western region.
Abdul Momen yesterday referred to a report by the Emergency Response and Assessment Team from ASEAN that says only 500,000 Rohingyas had fled the violence in Myanmar.
“This figure is totally wrong. Since August 2017, more than 740,000 Rohingyas had fled to Bangladesh. In total, there are 1.1 million Rohingyas living here,” the minister said.
The ASEAN team has surveyed only two out of 800 villages in Rakhine and said the situation was good and Myanmar was prepared for repatriation.
“Basically, Myanmar has not kept its pledge… They have not done anything about it.
“So, what Myanmar is saying is not true. Myanmar is our friend, our neighbour. We want a peaceful resolution, but how can we swallow [sic] such blatant falsehood [by Myanmar]?”
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation deal in November 2017. But so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to return as the fear for their safety.
The refugees also argue that there is no guarantee that they would be given citizenship and allowed to return to their places of origin.
Amnesty International late last month accused Myanmar military of committing new “war crimes” in Rakhine as Myanmar military fights the Arakan army.
Abdul Momen said there were chances of some Rohingyas becoming radicalised while staying here amidst uncertainties.
“So, we will again stress that Myanmar sticks to its promises. Please take back the people.”
Referring to yesterday’s meeting with diplomats, he said, “We have shared our position… They have said they are with us… Nobody believes in those statements [by Myanmar].
“It’s not only the Muslims, but the humanity is at stake in the way Myanmar is violating the rights of Rohingyas. If you have concern for humanity, you know how to create pressure on Myanmar.”
US-BANGLADESH PARTNERSHIP DIALOGUE
The US has committed to engaging the international community to mobilise additional assistance to put effective pressure on Myanmar for a resolution of the Rohingya crisis, according to a joint statement issued after a US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue held in Washington DC on June 10.
The event was co-chaired by Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.
The countries acknowledged the continuing challenge of terrorism, and the importance of adhering to human rights obligations while advancing security objectives.
The US committed to providing additional security assistance for Bangladesh to increase maritime domain awareness, piracy, and regional security coordination in the Bay of Bengal, pending congressional approval.
The US also praised Bangladesh’s impressive economic growth.
Bangladesh shared plans to facilitate foreign direct investment in support of infrastructure and energy projects and hoped that the creation of Special Economic Zones in the country would encourage more FDI from the US.
The US said it would continue to support the US private sector’s involvement in Bangladesh while both countries expanded commercial ties through fair, reciprocal, and mutually beneficial trade.
Washington said it would continue to promote US business engagement in support of Bangladesh’s development goals. It urged Bangladesh to continue its progress on labour rights and workplace safety in line with the ILO standards and practices in Bangladesh.