‘No war with Myanmar over Rohingya issue’: FM


Dhaka, September 10: Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Sunday ruled out the possibility of engaging in any war with Myanmar over the Rohingya issue.

“What do you say? Shall we engage in a war?  Shall we? We won’t engage in any war because the development we’ve had here will be destroyed,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said this while responding to questions from reporters after holding two back-to-back diplomatic briefings at State Guest House Padma.

Replying to a question, he said what is going on in Rakhine state is nothing but genocide. “Of course it’s genocide. It’s genocide. Everyone is saying that it’s genocide. And we’re also saying so,” he said.

Ambassadors, High Commissioners, CDAs from diplomatic Missions of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, the USA, the UK, and EU and representatives from UN Resident Coordinator, UNHCR, WFP, Unicef, IOM, ICRC were present at the first diplomatic briefing.

Ambassadors, High Commissioners and CDAs from diplomatic Missions of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were present during the second diplomatic briefing.

Minister Mahmood Ali said war is not a solution to the Rohingya crisis, and war will never be the solution to this problem.

Terming the Rohingya influx as a national problem, the Foreign Minister said all have to come up and participate in this matter considering the national interest.

He said the countries that attended the briefings supported Bangladesh, its government and people for lending support to the Rohingya people.

“All of them appreciated us without any reservation. They said you (Bangladesh) have so many problems in your country, but you’ve given them shelters, food and medicare facilities,” he added.

The Foreign Minister also mentioned that all will help Bangladesh address the current crisis. “This problem was not created by us rather by Myanmar. As the problem erupts in Myanmar so this problem has to be solved by them.”

Minister Ali mentioned that Bangladesh will definitely help Myanmar to solve this problem.

“This is some sort of revenge on an incident that took place last month in Rakhine (Aug 25). This is not acceptable to kill all or burn all the villages there,” he said.

Ali also said Bangladesh continues its diplomatic efforts to overcome the problem. “Diplomatic efforts cannot be done publicly, that’s why we cannot talk sometimes openly. If we talk then this process can be ruined. This can be said when the appropriate time will comes.”

The Foreign Minister categorically mentioned that those who came here crossing the border are definitely Myanmar nationals.

About recent separate statements by a minister of Myanmar and its National Security Adviser saying that they (people who entered in Bangladesh) have to show proof as they are the nationals of Myanmar, Mahmood Ali said how these people will show papers when their homes have been burnt.

“Still, the proof is there that they’re Myanmar nationals. No body accepted that Rohingyas are not Myanmar nationals. Everybody said the killing of innocent people is not acceptable, this should be stopped. Many of them called this genocide and should be stopped,” he said.

Ali also said the Myanmar government is feeling the pressure due to the diplomatic efforts by Bangladesh government regarding the Rohingya refugee issue.

About taking the matter to multilateral level, the minister said the United Nations General Meeting (UNGA) will start on September 17. “At that time, we’ll do our rest of the works –whatever is possible. We’re also working in the Third Committee, which is the committee of human rights of the UN.”

The Foreign Minister briefed the diplomats about the current situation regarding influx of Rohingyas and apprised that around 300,000 Rohingyas have already entered Bangladesh in the last two weeks.

He also mentioned that Bangladesh has already been hosting some 400,000 Rohingyas for three decades and currently the total number of Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh has reached over 700,000.

“This is creating a huge challenge for Bangladesh in terms of providing shelter as well as other humanitarian assistances to them,” he said.

The Foreign Minister highlighted that Bangladesh has always preferred having a bilateral solution to this longstanding problem and was successful in repatriating 236,599 Rohingyas to their homeland through a bilateral agreement in 1992.

He mentioned that the 1992 Agreement recognised Rohingyas as ‘members of Myanmar society’.

The Foreign Minister also highlighted Bangladesh’s efforts to address the security concerns of Myanmar, particularly by proposing MoUs in 2014 on Border Liaison Office and Security Dialogue.

Minister Ali said Bangladesh has also proposed joint inspection, coordinated patrolling of border; and ‘joint operation’ along the border. “Unfortunately, Myanmar has not responded to these proposals. Rather, they’ve been running a malicious propaganda terming the Rohingyas as ‘illegal migrants from Bangladesh’ and the attackers to their BGP posts as ‘Bengali terrorists’.”

The Foreign Minister referred to the recently published report of the Kofi Annan Commission and urged the international community to pursue the Myanmar government for immediate and unconditional implementation of the recommendations of this report in its entirety for permanent solution to this crisis.

He also requested the international community to help Bangladesh with urgent humanitarian assistances to address the current crisis, support for transportation of the Rohingyas to Bhashan Char, as well as to provide political support to ensure sustainable return of all Myanmar nationals to their homes in Myanmar.

The diplomats thanked the government of Bangladesh for the briefing.

They highly praised the government of Bangladesh for hosting the Rohingyas for all these years and also giving shelter to the Myanmar nationals who are fleeing violence in the Rakhine State.

They also stressed the protection of civilians and urged to stop disproportionate use of force during the ongoing military operation in Rakhine.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Foreign Secretary M shahidul Haque and other senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were also present.