Foreign Minister AKA Momen says it’s time for other countries to step up and open their borders
Amidst reports of many fleeing people from Rakhine attempting to enter Bangladesh to escape persecution, Dhaka has all but sealed-off its border with Myanmar to stop further influx, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said yesterday, stressing that Dhaka wants all the persecuted people living in the country to go back to their homes safely, securely and with dignity as soon as possible.
He also said that Bangladesh would not accept anybody anymore and it is now time for other countries to open their border as Dhaka kept its frontier open as long as it could.
Momen also said the Rohingya issue would get significant importance during his visit to India, for which he already left last night.
He was briefing reporters at his office after meeting with United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener and UNHCR Special Envoy and Hollywood celebrity actor Angelina Jolie.
Bangladesh sealed off border
When asked about the reports of attempts by many in Rakhine to cross into Bangladesh, Momen said: “This is funny. Earlier, the attacks were against Muslims, but now the Buddhists and other ethnic groups are also being targeted.”
“We learned that Myanmar say violence between Rakhine Army and Myanmar Army [two insurgents groups] is forcing people from different ethnic religious groups – Buddhist and Hindu – to try come to Bangladesh to save themselves,” he said.
“We will not accept anybody. We have more or less sealed off the border,” he added.
When asked what the government would do if requests to open the border come, Momen said: “We kept our border open for many people. Now, other countries must open their border, not us.”
About his meeting with the special envoy of the UN Secretary-General, the minister said Burgener is working on the issue and that she has access to all quarters in Myanmar including the powerful military.
“I said it’s very good news. Now it is your responsibility to take them back. Tell Myanmar,” said the minister.
“I said [to the special envoy] Myanmar has committed many serious crimes. Despite that, powerful countries kept ties with them, doing trade with them and investing in many sectors. We do not see Myanmar paying for what they did. Some people say something sometimes, but nothing is happening on ground. You can take notice of those things,” he said.
He also asked the envoy to pursue Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s proposal of establishing a safe zone in the Rakhine province and if Myanmar wants they will look after the safe zone and Asean countries, even China can join.
“Myanmar is China’s friend, so they might agree to it,” Momen said.
Replying to a question, the foreign minister, however, said that the special envoy did not make any pledge, but said that she would try.
Momen urges Angelina Jolie to highlight Rohingya plight via Hollywood
During his meeting with Jolie, the minister said: “She wants secured and safe return of the Rohingyas to their homeland. She will work on this and she is very happy at the exemplary humanity Bangladesh has shown.”
“Myanmar has created this problem and the solutions lie in Myanmar,” he told the Hollywood celebrity. ,
In response, Jolie said Myanmar has been creating this problem for last three-four decades and time has come now to rectify it.
Momen asked Jolie to make effort so that the crimes committed by Myanmar are corrected and Bangladesh will support in rehabilitating the Rohingyas.
He said Jolie assured of her support for the Rohingya cause all the time.
The minister also suggested Jolie to organize a big event in Hollywood to create public awareness and help the Rohingyas.
He also expressed his disappointment as many countries are not living up to their pledges to provide the necessary money to look after the Rohingyas.
Momen further said that sympathy for Bangladesh is enough and that there has to be some action.
“When Myanmar sent them (Rohingyas) they did not give any conditions, but when taking back they are giving different conditions. These are your [Myanmar] people. We want all of them to go back. All of the Rohingyas should go as soon as possible,” said Momen.
When asked about reports that around 2,00,000 Rohingyas are missing, the minister said: “I am not aware of this.”