Bangladesh has called for measures to ensure the safe, voluntary and sustainable return of all those displaced from Myanmar into Bangladesh territory over the years, including the recent ones.
“Bangladesh looks forward to immediately start working with Myanmar and the international community to help implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State,” said Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York Masud Bin Momen at the Security Council Meeting on the ‘Situation in Myanmar’ on early Friday, UNB reports.
He said Bangladesh continues to exercise utmost restraint in the face of repeated, unwarranted and willful provocations by Myanmar. “As a responsible and responsive State, we shall forge ahead seeking peaceful and lasting solution to this protracted situation through diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation,” he said.
Accordingly, the envoy said, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a five-point proposal last week at the General Assembly that have been largely echoed by the Secretary General and Council members this afternoon.
“Pursuant to those points, the immediate priorities should be to cease all forms of violence and ensure protection and humanitarian assistance for those affected or vulnerable in Rakhine State,” he said.
In this regard, Momen said, previous precedents including the 1992 arrangement through adaptation in the context of current realities, challenges and priorities can be used.
For this, he said, Bangladesh prefers joint-verification in the presence of international observers. “The forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals should return to their places of original abode in safety, security and dignity,” said the Ambassador.
Reiterating Prime Minister’s stance in the General Assembly, the envoy said, “The crisis has its root in Myanmar and its solution has to be found in Myanmar.”
He said Bangladesh, however, remains committed to engaging with Myanmar and the international community for the resolution of this outstanding critical issue. “Our experience from the last three decades makes it obvious that the bilateral track loses its momentum as soon as the international community shifts its attention elsewhere,” said the Bangladesh envoy.
“We, therefore, urge this Council to keep this issue alive in its agenda and make sure that we manage to arrive to the point of its logical conclusion. We also invite the Council members to conduct a field mission to Bangladesh and possibly Myanmar to gather first-hand accounts of the unfolding humanitarian crisis.”
The Ambassador, on behalf of the government and people of Bangladesh, conveyed sincere appreciation and gratitude to each one of the Council members for the show of support Bangladesh has seen so far.
According to the UN, since August 25, over half a million people have entered Bangladesh fleeing violence in northern Rakhine State.
Despite serious constrains, Bangladesh has given shelter to these distressed Rohingyas, the majority of whom are women and children.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has personally stood beside this most persecuted minority in the world.
“We are providing these forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals with basic and emergency humanitarian assistance. The international community has come forward in the spirit of responsibility sharing, although the UN and other relevant partners are stretched beyond their capacity,” said Momen.
Bangladesh authorities are also conducting biometric registration of all those that arrived in the last one month.
With this fresh influx, Bangladesh is currently hosting over 900,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar. “This is an untenable situation, to say the least,” he told the UNSC debate.
The Ambassador said the indiscriminate killing and torture by the Myanmar security forces, aided by vigilante groups acting on religious and ethnic affiliation, has already been cited as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’ by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“This has also been emphasized by our Hon’ble Prime Minister in her statement in the General Assembly,” he said.
The Security Council perhaps has a responsibility to examine whether military operations and consequent developments in northern Rakhine State point to any ‘threat to peace’ and ‘breach of the peace’ and what could be done to restore peace.
Under the circumstances, he said, it is of utmost importance that the remaining Rohingya civilians in northern Rakhine State are guaranteed unconditional protection by creating UN-administered ‘safe zones’ inside Myanmar.
It must also be ensured that the humanitarian assistance being provided reach all affected communities, in particular to the Rohingyas. Myanmar must ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access to the UN and other humanitarian agencies, he mentioned.
“There is perhaps no taker for the baseless and malicious propaganda to project Rohingyas as ‘illegal immigrants from Bangladesh’. This is not only a blatant denial of the ethnic identity of the Rohingyas, but also an affront to Bengalis all over the world. This has to stop,” he said.
The Council, the Ambassador said, should also take into account that reportedly more than two divisions of armed forces had been deployed by Myanmar in areas near our border since the first week of August 2017.
Troops were spotted within 200 meters of the zero line, and heavy armaments and artillery are reportedly placed in close proximity of our border, he said.
There have been 19 reported incidents of Bangladesh’s air space violation by Myanmar helicopters and drones, said the Ambassador.
He mentioned that anti-personnel mines have reportedly been laid along the stretch of the border to prevent the return of Rohingyas to Myanmar and there have been incidents of firing on Bangladeshi fishermen resulting in death of one.