Bangladesh is “outraged” by Myanmar’s “blatant demonstration of falsehood and fabrication of facts” at the ongoing UN General Assembly in New York.
“Bangladesh strongly rejects baseless accusations and falsification and misrepresentation of facts that Myanmar made at the UN General Assembly,” a senior official in Dhaka told UNB.
Bangladesh, through the UN, has urged the Myanmar government to abandon its policy of lies and propaganda and demonstrate genuine political will to take back its own nationals with safety, security and dignity, said the official.
Myanmar at the UNGA alleged that Bangladesh was harbouring terrorists in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps, but Bangladesh rejected such “baseless” allegations.
Another official said Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, maintains a “zero tolerance” policy towards terrorism, terrorists financing and other drivers of terrorism.
Bangladesh doesn’t allow terrorists to use it territory and Myanmar needs to look at its own image in the mirror, the official said, mentioning that this was what Bangladesh said in response to allegations made by Myanmar during the general debate at the UNGA.
Bangladesh also pointed out that Myanmar made “concocted and misleading” statements on the development in Rakhine State, particularly regarding the repatriation process.
Not a bilateral issue
Myanmar Minister Kyaw Tint Swe, in his speech at the UNGA, on Tuesday said bilateral cooperation was the only way to effectively resolve the Rohingya repatriation issue between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Bangladesh strongly disagreed on such a notion reminding Myanmar that the Rohingya issue was not a bilateral one, but it was Myanmar’s internal problem.
Bangladesh highlighted Myanmar’s track record of inhumane treatment of ethnic minorities, including Rohingyas, saying it was nothing new for Myanmar.
Bangladesh said it was Myanmar’s state policy of deliberate exclusion and persecution on their own people that instigated insurgency and turned Myanmar into a breeding ground of organised crimes.
Bangladesh took the floor to respond to Myanmar’s “propaganda” and said a deadly conflict was going on in Rakhine State ignoring the UN call for ceasefire simply to implement Myanmar’s “genocidal campaign” against its own people, said the official.
Bangladesh provided temporary shelter to over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals. More than three years have elapsed, but not a single Rohingya could be repatriated.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her speech at the 75th UNGA said, “The problem was created by Myanmar and its solution must be found in Myanmar. I request the international community to play a more effective role for a solution to the crisis.”
During the general debate, Bangladesh said the conditions in Rakhine were so bad that not a single Rohingya wanted to return to Myanmar voluntarily.
Bangladesh called upon Myanmar to open Rakhine to international organisations, UN and media to observe the situation on the ground.
Officials said Myanmar’s “unsubstantiated claims and undue accusations” against Bangladesh were part of their efforts to avoid their obligations for Rohingya repatriation.
Bangladesh made it clear in the general debate that Myanmar has no intention to implement the repatriation deal signed with Bangladesh.
What about 350 Rohingyas?
The Myanmar side acknowledged at the UN that bilateral repatriation had not yet started, but claimed more than 350 Rohingyas from camps in Cox’s Bazar had returned to Rakhine State.
Bangladesh raised questions over Myanmar’s such claim and wanted to know the whereabouts of those returnees.
“Who are those 350 people? Where are they now? Are they living at their homes in safety and security?” Bangladesh wanted to know from Myanmar if they had returned to Myanmar at all.
Visible action sought
Bangladesh has sought genuine efforts from the Myanmar government to take back their nationals.
Bangladesh conveyed the UN that Myanmar must address the real causes and it was not Bangladesh’s responsibility to keep bearing Myanmar’s burden again and again. “Myanmar needs to have genuine intent and political will to address the problem,” said an official.
Bangladesh told the UN during the general debate that Rohingyas do not want to return to Myanmar because they do not trust the Myanmar government.
Two repatriation attempts failed in November 2018 and August 2019.
Bangladesh highlighted the accountability issue and referred to the recent developments at the International Court of Justice.
Bangladesh also mentioned that the whole world watched the horrors and brutality by the Myanmar security forces on Rohingyas.
“We opened the border and saved lives. We acted in good faith,” an official quoted a Bangladesh diplomat as saying in the general debate.
Myanmar said they share the concern over allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine and take them seriously.
Bangladesh said Rohingyas were still entering Bangladesh amid violence in Rakhine and Myanmar continued distorting facts to justify its genocidal acts.
Holding perpetrators of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Rakhine to account would contribute to giving the Rohingyas the confidence to return home, diplomats stationed in Dhaka said.
Bangladesh and Myanmar had signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.
The two countries on January 16, 2018 had inked a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.