Rohingya issue tops PM's China mission

Mir Mostafizur Rahaman | Published: June 24, 2019 09:36:10 | Updated: June 24, 2019 16:54:51

Rohingya refugees look out from a shelter in Cox's Bazar — Reuters/Files

The Rohingya issue will be the key focus during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's upcoming visit to Beijing.

Foreign minister Dr AK ABdul Momen said this on Sunday while talking exclusively to a corps of journalists at his ministry.

"We want to convince China that the prolonged stay of the Rohingya at refugee camps might trigger radicalism, which would threaten regional stability."

"To date, we've managed to keep them (Rohingya) under control, but we don't know how long will the situation be under control?" Mr Momen said.

"There might be a rise in terrorism in the area for the prolonged stay of the Rohingya. This will affect foreign investment in the region."

"China and India have big investment in the region. Their investment will be at stake for any instability in the area," the minister mentioned.

"We, therefore, expect that China will urge Myanmar to take back their people as soon as possible," he continued.

Replying to a query, Mr Momen said since the beginning of the crisis China has been in favour of repatriation.

"They have backed the repatriation agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar and they feel that the process of sending the refugees back home should start soon."

On another query, the minister said Myanmar has been engaged in propaganda about this pre-eminent issue.

"But we don't believe in propaganda. We're wide open. Anybody can come here and find out the truth about the Rohingya crisis," he observed.

On propaganda, he said Myanmar is saying that only 0.5 million Rohingya took shelter in Bangladesh. But the number is more than 0.7 million and everybody knows it.

"They're also propagating that the Rohingya are not their citizens which is also a travesty of truth. For ages, the Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine province."

Mr Momen admitted to Bangladesh's not-so-much campaign for the Rohingya issue worldwide.

"Now, we've decided to gear up the process. We're going to prepare a brief on the Rohingya issue, which will be distributed worldwide," he cited.

The minister told the media that Myanmar wants to send a fact-finding mission to Rohingya camps.

"We welcome the move. We want them to let us know about the details of the mission," he stated.

If the International Criminal Court (ICC) gives a ruling on the identity of the Rohingya, Mr Momen said, Myanmar would be under pressure.

"In the ICC enquiry, we believe, it will become clear that the Rohingya are Myanmar citizens and they have inherent, undeniable rights to live in their homeland."

About the recent death of a Chinese worker at Payra port, the minister expressed his grave concern.

"We've taken the matter very seriously and will take proper action against those responsible," he said.

The premier is due to leave Dhaka for Beijing on July 01.



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