Marking the World Refugee Day, PEN Bangladesh urged Bangladeshi authors and poets to raise their voice about the urgent need for repatriation of the Rohingya refugees at a program at the organization’s office in Dhanmondi, Dhaka, on June 20.
The speakers requested the government to come up with alternative solutions to this trans-border issue.
PEN Bangladesh Secretary General Mohammad Moheuddin, Executive Member Shamim Reza and Acting Samakal Editor Mustafiz Shafi, among others, were present at the program.
“Is it possible to repatriate the Rohingya refugees? How long would that take? These questions are being discussed these days. I think we have to find out alternative ways to deal with this,” said Mustafiz Shafi. “I want to encourage the authors here. I want to engage those associated with PEN with this cause. Why wouldn’t we be able to put pressure on Myanmar? Why wouldn’t the United Nations Security Council be on our side?”
Only a government to government diplomacy will not suffice in this situation, he added.
“Why aren’t we highlighting the plights of the Rohingya community to other friendly Muslim nations or to the OIC?” Mustafiz Shafi stressed.
Poet Shamim Reza said, “If we do not speak up from every possible sector, from every diplomatic quarter, this problem won’t be solved.”
“The Muslim countries can help us here. If we do not keep on bringing this issue up to the international platform, the Rohingya population will increase up to 15 lakhs within two years,” he added.
Referring to the 84th Pen International Congress held in Pune, India, in September 2018, Secretary General Mohammad Moheuddin said, “PEN Bangladesh highlighted to representatives from all over the world the human rights violations faced by the Rohingyas. In this year’s Congress, this subject is supposed to be accepted as a resolution.”
PEN Bangladesh Vice President Ahmed Reza, Joint Secretary Lovely Bashar and former diplomat M Muzaharul Hoque, among others, also spoke at the event.