Not a single recorded Rohingya have returned to Myanmar, says foreign minister
Bangladesh has asked European nations to suspend the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) under which Myanmar gets EBA (Everything But Arms) privilege, until hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas are repatriated to Rakhine state.
After returning from his visits to Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Azerbaijan on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his office yesterday that he had said in the European capitals that: “You sing for humanity. You shout loudly about human rights. According to your information and UN information, genocide has taken place in that country [Myanmar]. Ethnic cleansing has taken place.
“Even after all these you are doing businesses in that country [Myanmar]. You have continued GSP privilege for them. These do not bode well with us. They [Europeans] were very surprised.”
He said: “We have said as long as they [Myanmar] don’t take back the Rohingyas, let there be a moratorium. Give them the condition that it is withdrawn and will be reinstated after the Rohingyas are repatriated.”
“They [Europeans] appreciated this and said that they will talk to the European Union about this.”
Responding to a question, the minister unequivocally said that not “a single Rohingya from our record has returned to Myanmar.”
“According to our calculation of those [Rohingyas] recorded with us, not a single person has returned. It is their [Myanmar] information [that many have returned]. We are not aware of this. We also do not know how they went.
“They did not take anybody from the ID [internally-displaced] camps or from the no man’s land. They say so many things,” he said.
“They [Myanmar] have been continuously carrying out propaganda with false information. We are protesting,” Momen added.
He reiterated Bangladesh’s proposal to the Myanmar government to take local Rohingya community leaders, people from international organisations and journalists to Rakhine to verify Naypyidaw’s claim that a conducive environment has been created for the return of the displaced people.
The foreign minister also suggested that civilian observers from other countries should be placed in Rakhine so that repatriated Rohingyas can feel that there are people to observe the situation.
“We don’t need to see. If they are so transparent, what is the problem to allow others to see the situation?” he added, reiterating that Rohingyas do not trust the Myanmar government.
Asked about Disaster Management and Relief Ministry sources that said Rohingyas’ relocation to Bhashan Char will begin on November 15 with 5,000 people, the minister said: “It will be very good if they go. I will be very happy. But, I don’t know that [the date]. I just returned last night [Wednesday]. I don’t have any information.”
He avoided a direct reply to the journalists’ request to take them to inspect Bhashan Char.