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Rohingya crisis: Momen says increased terror activities will ruin existing investments

  • Published at 12:50 pm June 12th, 2019
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Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen briefs diplomats stationed in Dhaka at State Guest House Padma on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Foreign minister urges diplomats to mount pressure on Myanmar

As feared earlier by the government, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar refugee camps have started experiencing terrorist activities recently. Such terrorist tendencies may increase due to the long presence of such a large number of people in Bangladesh, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.

Increased terrorist activities will ruin existing and planned investments in Myanmar by its friendly countries he warned, without naming anyone, while talking to reporters following a briefing regarding the ongoing Rohingya crisis at the state guest house Padma, for the heads of diplomatic missions stationed in Dhaka.

“Recently, some terrorist activities have started. We anticipated this earlier that if such a large number of people stay somewhere there is always a possibility of (creation of) pockets of radicalism. Terrorist activities may increase. Therefore, we will tell Myanmar to keep their promise and take these people (Rohingyas) back," Dr Momen said.

“Recently, we have told their (Myanmar) friendly countries and will tell them forcefully that you have advised us to discuss with them (Myanmar) bilaterally. Tell your friends to take their people back. If they are not taken back, terrorist activities may increase and the investments you made and are planning to make, will all be ruined. If there is uncertainty, development does not take place easily,” he added.

Dhaka to raise the issue during PM Hasina's China visit

Asked what measures are being taken to persuade China, the main backer of Myanmar, the foreign minister said Bangladesh will raise the issue with the utmost importance when the prime minister visits China.

“We will tell China that if there is no peace and discipline here, if there is uncertainty, then your interests will also be affected,” he said. 

“China has told us repeatedly that these people of Myanmar should return to Myanmar,” he added, expressing his optimism about beginning the repatriation.

Dr Momen, when asked if he requested those who had earlier imposed targeted sanctions to widen the areas, said: “We said today (Wednesday) that sovereign states will decide on how pressure can be applied on Myanmar. We will not say anything. You will decide. Not only are Muslims being assaulted but humanity is being assaulted too. If you are for humanity you know how to put pressure on Myanmar. So, you can decide.”

'Myanmar is telling blatant lies'

Referring to a statement of a Myanmar minister who said that Rohingyas are not returning due to non-cooperation from Bangladesh, the foreign minister accused the country’s second neighbour of resorting to blatant lies, saying: “You all know Bangladesh is ever ready for these displaced people from Myanmar to go back.”

“It is Myanmar who is not keeping its pledged time. You know we made arrangements with them. The repatriation was supposed to begin in January 2018 and was due to be completed in two years. But that did not happen. Thereafter, it was said that the repatriation will begin in November 2018. That also did not happen. Just a few days back we went to Myanmar to hold the fourth meeting of the joint working group (JWG). We were very hopeful that the process will begin, but we went in vain,” said the minister.

“Out of 800 villages, Myanmar conducted a study on only two of those. This study has been conducted in the name of ASEAN and it was stated that the condition in those two villages was very good. Two showcase villages out of 800! Basically, Myanmar did not live up to their promises. Myanmar should have created a conducive environment in Rakhine state. They did not do anything in this regard,” he said.

“Six months ago, when the JWG meeting was held, they said all will be done. Even six months after the meeting there has been no development. Not a single Rohingya is yet to go to Myanmar. None of the Rohingyas living in our country went back,” Dr Momen said.

Even, none of the Rohingyas who are now on the Myanmar side of no man’s land have returned, he said, adding: "What Myanmar is saying is not true at all."

“We don’t want to say (anything) about our neighbour. After all they are our neighbour. Through negotiations with them, we need a peaceful and sustainable solution. But, how long can we digest such blatant lies?" said the apparently annoyed minister.

“Myanmar has a lot of complaints. They are now on a campaign of misinformation. They are also saying that there are only 0.5 million Rohingyas, while the actual number is 1.1 million,” he mentioned.

The foreign minister said Bangladesh has made its position clear and the heads of missions have asserted that they are with Dhaka on this.

And they also said what Myanmar is telling in various ways are absolutes lies, he added.

“We have told them (diplomats) to go to Myanmar and Rakhine and create more pressure on Myanmar to create a conducive environment. By and large they have agreed,” Dr Momen said.

To a question, the minister said: “We are very lucky that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in its just-concluded summit decided to take the Myanmar issue to the International Court of Justice. The Gambian attorney general is leading the ad-hoc committee and all the OIC members have supported this.”