Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the United States to put pressure on Myanmar to stop pushing Rohingyas into Bangladesh.
“We have given shelter to a large number of Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds and it's a big problem for us.... So I urge you to mount pressure on Myanmar in this regard,” she said.
Hasina made the appeal when US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells met her at her office. PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting, reports BSS.
The Myanmar Rohingyas, one of the most persecuted communities in the world, have been fleeing to Bangladesh since late '80s. Presently, an estimated 500,000 Rohingyas live in Bangladesh.
Ihsanul said Wells wanted to know whether there had been any political dialogue between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the Rohingya issue. Hasina in reply said Bangladesh's foreign office was in contact with the Myanmar authorities.
The issue came up at the meeting as thousands of Rohingyas entered Bangladesh since Friday after Myanmar security forces launched a drive in Rakhine State in the face of attacks on 30 police posts and an army base.
The Myanmar government claimed the attackers killed 10 policemen, a soldier and an immigration official. A total of 77 “insurgents” were also killed.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali yesterday sought UN support to resolve the Rohingya crisis during a farewell call by the departing UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Robert D Watkinson, said a foreign ministry press release.
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said it found satellite images capturing fire burning in at least 10 areas in Rakhine State.
ESCALATION IN CONFLICT
International Crisis Group, an independent political think tank, said the latest violence represents a very serious escalation in the conflict. Following attacks by insurgents in October last year, Myanmar troops conducted a heavy-handed operation. As a result, some 87,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh.
Early this year, a UN investigation concluded that there had been grave and widespread abuses by the military that “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity.
Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), yesterday wrote letters to UN Secretary General António Guterres and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to address the violence affecting the Rohingya Muslims.
In a statement, he called upon Myanmar to immediately restore the displaced people to their homes and allow humanitarian aid agencies to assist the affected people.
The OIC secretary general said, “The current crisis has the potential of destabilising the entire region unless the core issues of inequality, justice and citizenship are resolved.”
Al-Othaimeen also urged the UN Security Council to address the issue.
The UK on Tuesday called upon the UN Security Council to convene to discuss reports of mass civilian casualties after raids by Myanmar security forces against “Rohingya fighters”.
The Arakan Rohingya National Organisation urged Bangladesh to take immediate steps to lobby the international community for establishing UN safe areas in Arakan State.
In a statement, it claimed Myanmar unleashed a campaign of unprecedented terror and brutality that resulted in the deaths of “hundreds of civilians, including countless children and women whose only crime was they were born in Rohingya families”.