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Dhaka Tribune

FM Momen urges Asean members to ‘intervene’ in Rohingya repatriation

It's crucial to maintain regional peace to attain full potential, says the foreign minister

Update : 08 Aug 2021, 05:41 PM

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday urged the member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to intervene in the Rohingya issue and help expedite their repatriation to Myanmar.

"For the last four years, there is no violence in the Rakhine state, yet none of the displaced people of Myanmar returned to their homes mostly because of fear of uncertainty and trust defect," he said.

Dr Momen was addressing a virtual program on the occasion of the 54th Asean Day organized by Asean Dhaka Committee.

Dr Momen said that Asean should work together to address their lack of trust and uncertainty and facilitate their safe repatriation.

The prolonged presence of such a huge number of displaced people entails serious ramification on the economy, environment, security, and socio-political stability of not only Bangladesh but the entire region including the Asean, he said.

Dr Momen said they need to make a tangible progress in terms of a safe, secure and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland, Myanmar.

Myanmar agreed to take back their displaced people from Bangladesh and agreed to provide them safety and security and also to create a conducive environment in the Rakhine state for their return but the pledge remains unmet.

Out of a humanitarian consideration, the Foreign Minister said, Bangladesh is sheltering to 1.1 million Myanmar nationals who were forcibly evicted from their homeland.

Dr Momen said Asean is standing at a crossroad of previous success and future opportunities.

Bangladesh considers it crucial to maintain regional peace, stability and security if the region is to attain full potential, he said.

Also Read- Dhaka calls for Asean leaders’ concerted efforts to tackle regional challenges

Bangladesh says it is willing to work with Asean for the betterment of the people of this entire region and attain the shared vision of future prosperity.

Bangladesh, being located between Asean and Saarc, provides a lot of opportunities and potentials to furthering trade, investment and wide economic relations with the Asean countries, Dr Momen said.

Bangladesh applied for the status of Secretarial Dialogue Partner of Asean, which if received, can add impetus in Bangladesh’s role in bridging these two important regions of the world.

Asean brings together ten countries with over 660 million people, about 9% of the world’s population, and a combined gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion.

Throughout the last 50 years, Dr Momen said, the Asean has transformed from a loosely constructed regional organization to one of the major players in the world encompassing almost all countries in Southeast Asia.

With its unique geographical location, Bangladesh can act as a “bridge” between South Asia and South East Asia acting as a gateway to the landlocked countries of Nepal, Bhutan, and Northeast India for the Asean countries, Dr Momen said.

The Asean Dhaka Committee (ADC) hosted the 54th Asean Day to commemorate the founding of Asean on August 8, 1967.

Under the national Chairmanship of Brunei Darussalam, the theme for 2021 is “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper.” 

Haznah Md Hashim highlighted the achievement of Asean, after 54 years since its establishment, in bringing peace and prosperity to the region, and that Asean has been working together in finding a sustainable response to the current pandemic.

She reiterated the significance of Asean-Bangladesh relations, and that the ADC will continue to play an active and constructive role as the bridge for the Asean member states in engaging the host government.

Among others Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Haznah Md Hashim, High Commissioner of Malaysia and Chair of the Asean Dhaka Committee, Haji Haris bin Haji Othman, High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam Rina P Soemarno, Ambassador of Indonesia, Aung Kyaw Moe, ambassador of Myanmar, Pham Viet Chien, ambassador of Vietnam, Panom Thongprayoon, chargé d’affaires of Kingdom of Thailand, Leo Marco C Vidal, chargé d’affaires of the Philippines, Sheela Pillai, head of mission of the Singapore Consulate in Dhaka; Foreign Ministry officials and diplomats from Asean member countries also joined the event.

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