Lingering Rohingya crisis may create radicalization and uncertainty to frustrate hope for a stable region, fears the foreign minister
Instead of creating favourable conditions for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh, Myanmar is engaged in fighting in Rakhine, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said on Thursday.
The lingering of the crisis may create radicalization and uncertainty that may dash the hope of a peaceful region.
The minister was addressing a virtual special foreign ministers’ meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The CICA is an inter-governmental forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.
Despite the threat to our economy, ecology, and overall societal impact, Bangladesh gave shelter, on a humanitarian ground, to nearly 1.1 million persecuted people fleeing massacre in Myanmar, their homeland, said Momen.
“Bangladesh is keen on solving the crisis through constructive diplomacy with good neighbourly spirit. Myanmar is our friendly country and, therefore, Bangladesh signed 3 instruments with Myanmar for repatriation. Myanmar agreed to take them back after verification,” he said.
“They also agreed to create a conducive environment for their voluntary repatriation and they agreed to ensure safety and security of the displaced people. But unfortunately till today, none went back and instead of creating a conducive environment, fighting and shelling is ongoing in the Rakhine state,” said the minister.
“Our fear is that, if this problem persists, it may lead to pockets of radicalism and since terrorists have no borders, no faith, there’s a high possibility of creation of uncertainty in the region which may frustrate our hope for a peaceful, secure and stable region,” he said.
“We were concerned that the Covid-19 might badly affect 1.1 million Rohingyas who live in a highly congested area inside Bangladesh. Fortunately, minimal got affected due to multiple targeted initiatives,” he added.
The foreign minister said: “Because of lack of confidence buildings and trust deficits between persecuted Rohingya and Myanmar government, not a single Rohingya went back to Myanmar. To improve confidence buildings, we suggested many options to Myanmar, for example, ’go and visit,’ Myanmar would allow Rohingya leaders to visit Rakhine province or allowing non- military civilian observers from Myanmar’s friendly countries like ASEAN+, or China, Russia or India or any country of their choice so that Rohingya feel assured of their safety and security.”
“Alternately, we requested Myanmar officials to come and talk to their displaced Rohingya for confidence building, unfortunately Myanmar is yet to respond to our suggestions,” he said.
“In this confidence building conference of CICA, you will agree with me that it is time for Myanmar to interact with their displaced people for confidence building measures for meaningful and durable solution,” Momen said.
“Secondly, Myanmar’s stability and economic growth could be negatively affected if the Rohingya problem is not resolved. This problem has been created by Myanmar and the solution also lies with Myanmar,” he said.
On Covid-19, the minister said that this pandemic proves to us that it is neither stockpiles of weapons nor building up of walls can save human life.
Therefore, it is time to direct resources to health and social sectors, he said.
“We believe that peace and security in Asia can be achieved through dialogue and cooperation, where all states coexist peacefully and their people live in peace, freedom and prosperity,” said Momen.