Unite, act now

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the OIC member states to show unity for solving the Rohingya crisis before it is too late.

She put forward some proposals, including full implementation of the recommendations made by the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine advisory commission, in this regard.

She said Bangladesh was ready to join any initiative under plans from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The PM was speaking at the Meeting of OIC Contact Group on Rohingya Muslim Minority at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday, with OIC Secretary General Yousef Al-Othaimeen in the chair.

Mentioning that the crisis has its roots in Myanmar and its solution has to be found there, Hasina said, “We want to see an end to the ethnic cleansing. The plights of our Muslim brothers and sisters need to be stopped as well.”

The PM said all forms of atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims must be stopped immediately and “safe zones” may be created inside Myanmar to protect the innocent civilians, especially the women, children and elderly.

All the Rohingyas displaced forcibly must be able to return to their homeland in Myanmar with safety, security and dignity, and the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission, led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, will have to be fully implemented immediately and unconditionally, she added.

“The state-sponsored propaganda to identify Rohingyas as Bangalis must stop and the Muslim brotherly countries should help Bangladesh with urgent humanitarian assistance till they return to Myanmar.”

She said military operations by the Myanmar authorities have created havoc in Rakhine State and has caused the largest exodus of Rohingyas of all time.

Over 400,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh since August 25 and 60 percent of them are children. “It’s an unbearable human catastrophe. I myself have visited them and listened to the stories of their grave sufferings, particularly of women and children.”

Hasina invited OIC leaders to visit Bangladesh to hear from Rohingyas how they fled the persecution in Myanmar.

PM Sheikh Hasina and UN Secretary-General António Guterres in conversation at the UN headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: BSS

She said Bangladesh had already been hosting another 400,000 Rohingyas for the last three decades. “So, altogether we’re hosting about 800,000 Rohingyas in Bangladesh. Despite space and resource constraints, we’re providing them with shelter, food and other emergency services.”

The PM said although Myanmar claims that the Rohingyas are “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh”, all the historical records suggest that they have been living in Rakhine for centuries.

“Myanmar is forcibly driving out the Rohingya Muslims through a planned and organised process. First, they have been excluded from the list of recognised ethnic groups of Myanmar. Then in 1982, they were denied their right to citizenship. Later, they were sent to IDP camps in their own country.”

Hasina said the OIC members might have also seen in the media that Myanmar is planting landmines along their stretch of the border to stop return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

TAKE BACK ROHINGYAS: OIC

The OIC has urged the Myanmar government to take urgent steps for the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and internally and externally displaced Rohingya Muslims to their homeland, in safety, security, dignity and with ensured livelihood.

The heads of state and government of the OIC member states recently held a meeting to discuss the current situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 1st OIC Summit of Science and Technology in Astana, Kazakhstan, at the initiative of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the chair of the OIC Summit, the Bangladesh foreign ministry said yesterday in Dhaka.

The OIC expressed grave concern over the recent systematic brutal acts perpetrated by security forces against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which constitute a serious and blatant violation of international laws.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a meeting of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Rohingya crisis at the UN headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: BSS

It called upon the Myanmar government to accept the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into all the alleged violations of international human rights law and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The meeting urged the Myanmar government to honour its obligations under the international laws and human rights covenants, and to take all measures to immediately halt acts of dispersion and discriminatory practices against Rohingya Muslims, as well as the continuous attempts to obliterate their Islamic culture and identity, including delisting them from household lists.

The OIC leaders stressed that the Myanmar government should eliminate the root causes, including the denial of citizenship based on the 1982 Citizenship Act which has led to statelessness and deprival of the rights of the Rohingya Muslims, and to continued dispossession and discrimination against them.

The organisation reiterated its call to the Myanmar government to revive the agreement to open an OIC office for humanitarian affairs in Yangon after signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the OIC to that effect.

The purpose of the OIC office was to provide pure humanitarian assistance without distinction between the victims of violence.

The OIC leaders said Myanmar should take all necessary measures to restore peace and inter-communal harmony through holding a dialogue and a comprehensive reconciliation process concerning all segments of the society. This includes tackling the rise of hate speech and the spread of propaganda by right wing extremists against the Rohingya population.

The meeting expressed concerns over the huge Rohingya influx into Bangladesh and its humanitarian and security consequences for the Bangladesh government.

The organisation urged its member states to extend necessary support to Bangladesh to enable it to face the flow of refugees into its territories.

The OIC welcomed the recommendations of the Rakhine advisory commission and urged the Myanmar government to take concrete steps towards their earliest implementation.

The meeting called on the OIC members to provide support for the implementation of these recommendations.

It invited OIC member states to join the efforts of the international community towards lifting all restrictions on freedom of movement in Rakhine and ensuring an inclusive and transparent citizenship verification process that leaves no individual unregistered nor hinders their access to essential social services, including education and health care.

MALAYSIA WARNS OF REGIONAL INSTABILITY

Malaysia and its neighbouring Asean countries would bear the brunt of serious regional instability if the grave situation in Rakhine was not addressed, said Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, reports Malaysian Digest.

He was addressing the meeting of the OIC Contact Group in New York.

“The precarious situation provides a fertile breeding ground for recruitment of extremists,” he said, adding it is a well-known fact that the Islamic State is now seeking to make South East Asia and South Asia as its nest and bedrock.

He stressed that the Myanmar government must ensure the return of internally displaced people and restore the status of the Rohingyas.

“We must act now. We must move beyond rhetoric. We must save lives. We must ensure that the ancestor land of the Rohingyas is restored.”

Source: The Daily Star

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