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Give them shelter

  • Published at 12:01 am March 9th, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:49 am March 9th, 2017
Give them shelter

I had a surprise waiting for me when I recently visited the beautiful black-marble city of Kilkenny, a 90-minute train journey from Ireland’s capital Dublin.

Let me introduce you to Kilkenny: The city is located in the southeast of Ireland in the province of Leinster. The county of Kilkenny has three major rivers running through it, known as the Three Sisters -- the Nore, the Suir, and the Barrow. In 1641, Kilkenny was actually the capital city of Ireland, and remained the capital for nine years until the Cromwell-led conquest of Ireland in 1649.

The city has a medieval feel with well-maintained and preserved old buildings. Kilkenny is a county rich in artistic tradition -- Thomastown is famed for its community of artists, while Inistioge is one of the most beautiful towns in Ireland.

Many tour operators list the city as one of the most beautiful in the world. Indeed, with its historic architecture and pastures full of cattle, it is an amazing sight to behold.

I was visiting a private radio station called KCLR in Kilkenny as part of my efforts to build a bridge with the Irish media. The commercial radio has some 70,000 listeners daily, and has won many awards.

Its chief executive John Purcell, who also heads an association of private radio owners in Ireland, told me that the programs were put on air after much research, and that it has helped them win awards with only around 30 staff.

With one conference studio and two smaller ones, the studio is now famed for its farming programs and a program on music from around the world -- but they never play anything from Bangladesh! Some of the sweetest music is made in Bangladesh, I told them, and that they should definitely consider playing some of them, seeing how a lot of the music made in our nation is available on YouTube.

We must bring to light these ‘good Rohingyas’ in Kilkenny, and maybe help re-settle the Rohingya in countries like Ireland. All across Europe there is massive empty land lying idle, with comparatively meagre populations

I have sent two CDs to Sue Nun, the station editor.

But a more interesting episode soon occurred as we discussed the issues surrounding Bangladesh’s surging economy, political stability, democracy, and our fight against terrorism.

Then came the issue regarding the Rohingyas from Myanmar, who have been seeking refuge in Bangladesh since 1991, a massive exodus because of terrible persecution.

“We have around 70 Rohingya families who have settled in the nearby county of Carlow,” Sue told me later, to my utter surprise. She added that the children have become part of the local cricket team and have been performing very well. “They helped win a few matches too,” she said with a smile.

They have impressed the local people of the Kilkenny and Carlow areas.

In fact, we need to find out who they are, as I feel like we, as a nation, have a stake in the matters of the Rohingya, and that is what I told them in my radio interview.

Many in Bangladesh have resorted to crimes such as drug dealing and prostitution. The Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) has been involved in armed crimes, including terrorism, according to media reports.

It was in 1991 when I broke the Rohingya exodus news for Agence France-Presse, I found out that people in Teknaf, Ukhia, Cox’s Bazaar, and other nearby areas were complaining how the Rohingyas sneaked out of the camps and blamed them for all kinds wrong-doings.

We must bring to light these “good Rohingyas” in Kilkenny, and maybe help resettle the Rohingya in countries like Ireland.

All across Europe, there is massive empty land lying idle, with comparatively meagre populations.

The world must not push Bangladesh to accept the fleeing Rohingyas, but rather send a ship to ferry them to European countries. They have all the means, from land, funds, homes, and health care to provide for these unfortunate people.

Nadeem Qadir is the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.