Friday, April 17, 2009

Bangladesh raises Rohingya issue in Bali

by Siddique Islam

Dhaka (Mizzima) - Bangladesh has urged the Burmese junta to take back 28,000 remaining Rohingya, a Muslim minority, to their homeland.

Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr Dipu Moni, during a regional meeting in Bali on Thursday, called for a multilateral approach to solve the problem Rohingya people, who have in great number influx into Bangladesh.

"Bangladesh with its limited resources had done more than enough for the refugees from Myanmar over the last three decades. Myanmar [Burma] must now take back its own people," Dr. Moni said.

The foreign minister was addressing the 3rd Regional Ministerial Conference on "People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crimes" in Bali, Indonesia, a message received in the capital, Dhaka on Thursday said.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister strongly refuted the claim of Burmese Deputy Minister for Home Affairs and Chief of Police that Rohingya are not an ethnic entity of his country.

"The Rohingya are living in Myanmar [Burma] for centuries and many Rohingya even held high posts in the government of Myanmar [Burma]," Dr. Moni said.

“previous repatriation of quite a few hundred thousand Rohingya and acceptance of the list of further 28,000 Rohingya proved that they are very much part of the population of Myanmar [Burma]," she added.

She said Rohingya, who are predominantly Muslim residing in northern Arakan state in Western Burma, had national radio programmes in their language in Burma. And just dropping names from population list would not make them anything other than an ethnic entity of Burma, the foreign minister noted.

Dr. Dipu Moni said as a manifestation of friendship and good-neighbourly gesture, Bangladesh has always extended assistance to Burma for the early repatriation of Rohingya to their home country.

The delegates attending the meeting from other countries agreed with Bangladesh’s foreign minister and called upon the Burmese delegation to improve the state of affairs and develop basic facilities and resources in Arakan state of Burma.

About 41 member countries, 19 observer countries and 13 international organizations took part in the two-day conference, a press statement said.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister also raised the Rohingya issue in a bilateral meeting with her Indonesian counterpart Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda.

"Both of them opined that Myanmar [Burma] should immediately take measures for repatriation of Rohingya without further delay and necessary steps should be taken so that Rohingya did not flee Myanmar [Burma]," the statement added. (JEG's: what would he suggest to make sure the Rohs do not skip town? prison perhaps? but they were already prisoners without cause...?)

Dr Dipu Moni also held a bilateral meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, who expressed his utmost happiness that Bangladesh had returned to democracy.

Stephen Smith observed that there was still ample scope to enhance bilateral relations further. He also agreed that without citing any excuse, Myanmar should immediately act for repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

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