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Minister: Army chief to open new line of negotiation during Myanmar visit

  • Published at 01:40 pm November 27th, 2019
Rohingya
File Photo: Rohingya men and women migrating to different camps in Cox Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Foreign minister expresses hope, while briefing media on prime minister’s upcoming visit to Spain to attend 25th UN Climate Change Conference

The foreign minister on Wednesday said an upcoming visit of the Bangladesh Army chief to Myanmar will bring something good for Bangladesh and “open another line of negotiation” between the two countries over Rohingya repatriation.

“We want to resolve it [Rohingya crisis] through discussions. I think it [the visit] will go in favour of us. It'll be good for us," Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at the state guesthouse Padma, reports UNB.

Momen said Myanmar was not Bangladesh’s enemy but a friend and in Myanmar, their army plays a very significant role.

Under the circumstances, he said, it will be good for Bangladesh if Army Chief of Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed goes there.

Gen Aziz on Sunday told reporters at Cox’s Bazar that he was scheduled to visit Myanmar next month.

“We will discuss issues relating to improving the relationship between the two countries,” he said. “Many issues will come up and we may talk about the Rohingya issue but whatever happens, it will be in the interest of Bangladesh.”

The foreign minister said Myanmar created the Rohingya problem and its solution depended on Myanmar, too.

He said they remain engaged on all fronts and expect a solution to the Rohingya crisis through negotiation and discussion.

The minister made the remarks during a press conference, held to brief the media on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's participation at the 25th UN Climate Change Conference next month.

The 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) will convene in Madrid, Spain from December 2-13.

The prime minister will leave Dhaka for Madrid on December 1 and will return home on December 3, said the foreign minister.

Earlier, Chile had withdrawn as the host of the annual climate summit, citing the impact of ongoing anti-government protests.

‘Relocation process to Bhashan Char still on’

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017, amid a crackdown of Myanmar military on the Muslim-majority ethnic minority in the Rakhine state.

Asked whether the government postponed the refugees’ relocation plan to Bhashan Char, the foreign minister on Wednesday said: “We have not. Our process is still ongoing.”

He said Bhashan char relocation plan was a temporary arrangement as the existing Rohingya camps are overcrowded with risk of landslides and subsequent deaths.

“We won’t force anybody to go there. Any relocation will be in voluntary nature. We wanted to relocate them there for their betterment and avoid risk or reduce risk,” Momen added.

In this handout aerial photo taken on June 19, 2019 and released on October 21 by Mukta Dinwiddie MacLaren Architects shows buildings intended to accomodate members of the Rohingya refugee community on the silt islet Bhashan Char in the Bay of Bengal | AFPBangladesh government has already developed Bhashan Char — located in the Bay of Bengal, 21 nautical miles from Noakhali Sadar, and being developed by Bangladesh Navy — to accommodate some 100,000 Rohingyas.

‘Ready to send back Rohingyas’

On November 15, Myanmar made another venture to “unduly attribute the non-commencement of repatriation” of the Rohingya entirely to non-cooperation and non-respect of bilateral arrangements by Bangladesh.

Rejecting baseless accusation, falsification and misrepresentation of the facts over the Rohingya repatriation, Bangladesh on Sunday said the Myanmar government must stop such concocted campaign.

“We’re ready to send them [Rohingyas] back. We stand ready,” said Foreign Minister Momen on Wednesday.

Earlier, Bangladesh had urged Myanmar to concentrate on the fulfilment of its obligations so that the forcibly displaced Rohingyas could return home in a “safe, dignified and voluntary” manner.

It said continued rally of fabricated information, misrepresentation of facts, unsubstantiated claims and unwarranted accusations, to unjustifiably shift the onus of the Rohingya crisis on Bangladesh, testifies the Myanmar government’s campaign to avoid its obligations to create an environment in Rakhine conducive for the sustained repatriation and reintegration of the forcibly displaced Rohingya in their homeland.

Not a single refugee was repatriated over the last two years due to Myanmar’s “failure” to build confidence among the Rohingyas and lack of a conducive environment in Rakhine state, officials here said.

Bangladesh has so far handed over names of over 100,000 Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities for verification and subsequently expediting their repatriation efforts, but Myanmar is yet to take back its nationals from Bangladesh, according to the Foreign Ministry.