Dhaka supports efforts to ensure rights of Rohingya

Dhaka, Bangladesh: Dhaka supports efforts of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – OIC – to promote rights and welfare of the minority Muslim community in Rakhine State with cooperation from Burmese government, said Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on June 18, quoted by Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).

Foreign Minister delivered his statements in two separate sessions organized on the occasion of the 41st Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC taking place in Jeddah, KSA, the ministry official said.

The FM also indicated that Bangladesh government has been pursuing its goal of building a robust, friendly and mutually beneficial relation with Burma, and is committed to resolving the issues of influx and return of refugees from Burma through sustained dialogue, understanding and cooperation.

On the sidelines of the council, the foreign minister also took part in a meeting of OIC Contact Group on Muslim Minority in Burma when he again appreciated the efforts of the OIC General Secretariat for engagement with the Burmese government on the rights and welfare of the Muslim minority in the Rakhine State.

“He also welcomed the appointment of former Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar as the Special Envoy of OIC Secretary General for Myanmar and expressed the hope that the new Special Envoy would be able to make progress on issues with Myanmar government,” it said.

The Bangladesh foreign office earlier said since Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent state on December 16, 1971, there had been occasional influxes of Rohingyas from Burma “due to internal situations in their homeland” during the past junta rule.

The last such major influx took place in 1991-92 when 250,877 Rohingyas took refuge in Bangladesh and of them Burma took back 236,599 refugees through a tripartite agreement between Bangladesh, Myanmar and UNHCR “after verification of their antecedents as people of Myanmar origin” and recognized “Rohingya” in the repatriated document.

The remaining Burmese refugees, along with their offspring, are staying in two refugee camps in Bangladesh. A quarter of these residual refugees were verified and confirmed by the Burmese Government as their nationals.

The refugees fled their country to take refuge in neighboring Bangladesh amid reported repression by the then Burmese junta in 1991 while the exodus also took place on a massive scale in two subsequent phases while Dhaka estimated their number to be ranged between 400,000 and 500,000.

“In numerous interactions at various levels, including during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Myanmar in December 2011 . . . Myanmar has assured Bangladesh to take back these undocumented (400,000 to 500,000) Myanmar nationals after verification of their origin,” a foreign office statement earlier said.

The Rohingyas at the home in Buddhist majority Rakhine state in western Myanmar were exposed to fresh difficulties with the outbreak of sectarian or communal violence two years ago.

According to the UNHCR around one million Rohingya are now thought to live outside Myanmar, but they have not been welcomed by a third country while Bangladesh has turned back Rohingya boats arriving on its shores since the outbreak of the recent unrest.

In a statement in June 11 this year the UN refugee agency said two years after inter-communal violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, “thousands of people are still leaving by boat from the Bay of Bengal. Reports of abuse and exploitation as people seek safety and stability elsewhere are meanwhile increasing”.

The UNHCR estimated more than 86,000 people have left on boats since June 2012, of which more than 16,000 people in the second half of 2012, another 55,000 in 2013 and nearly 15,000 from January to April this year.

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