Speakers at a dialogue have urged the international community to mount pressure on Myanmar to take back its Rohingya nationals without further delay. This was organized by PEN Bangladesh at its Dhanmondi office on Saturday.
PEN Bangladesh is a bilingual society of Bangladesh-based writers, poets, publishers, editors, translators, journalists and academics that aims to promote literature and defend freedom of expression in Bangladesh.
Speaking at the event, noted writer and PEN Bangladesh President Syed Manzoorul Islam said a peaceful solution to the crisis is still possible. “The international community should play an instrumental role in resolving it.
“The United Nations Security Council must come forward to address what is now the biggest refugee crisis in the world,” he said.
Novelist Selina Hossain pointed out the humanitarian and environmental crisis created by the last spate of Rohingya influx into Bangladesh.
“We must stand by them [Rohingya refugees] as they are fleeing persecution. We cannot forget that when we were fleeing the genocide campaign launched by the Pakistani army in 1971, India gave us shelter,” she said. “However, we are also enormously worried about the heavy toll this crisis is taking on our environment.”
“The landscape of Cox’s Bazar is going to change permanently if they are not repatriated,” she added.
Author Faruk Mainuddin said: “While we must make the human rights issues of these forcibly displaced people our priority, we should not turn a blind eye to the rights of our own people. As nearly one million refugees are living in makeshift camps in Teknaf [an upazila in southern Bangladesh], there is a high chance that they may encroach on land and take over other assets of the locals.”
Speakers also lauded Bangladesh’s generosity and support to the refugees.
PEN Bangladesh Secretary General Muhammad Moheuddin and executive member Shamim Reza, among others, were also present at the program.