Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made no secret of her discontent with Myanmar's handling of the Rohingya issue.
“I have told Myanmar that they must take back their citizens and give them back citizenship,” she said at a reception programme by Awami League's US unit in New York on Wednesday morning (BdST).
She said the Rohingya refugees required urgent aid.
More than 400,000 refugees have fled to Bangladesh since the unfolding of the latest chapter in the Rohingya crisis on August 25.
Bangladesh already houses hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who crossed the border at different times in the past following persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
“If we can feed 160 million people, won't we be able to provide for them?” she asked. “Bangladeshis are very generous. They will skip meals to feed them (Rohingya refugees).”
Dhaka has been calling on other countries to mount pressure on Naypyitaw to stop persecution of the Rohingya and take them back.
Hasina said: “We provided shelter to droves of people coming in from Myanmar on humanitarian grounds.
“We, too, were forced to seek refuge in India in the face of Pakistan's attack [in 1971]. [The Pakistan army] burned our homes to the ground and shot dead many people.”
The prime minister also pushed for implementation of recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission which was tasked with finding solutions to the ethnic conflict in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Hasina said they discussed the matter at the OIC meeting. “They (OIC leaders) too also spoke about the [Rohingya] issue. I have asked, 'why only Muslims will be the refugees around the world?' They agreed with me,” she added.
About the Bangladeshi refugees in India, she said: “Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took back all refugees from India in 1972 after Bangladesh's independence.
“No other nation could bring back [their refugees] so quickly.”
At the programme, she also spoke about her arch political rival BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
Referring to the Zia Orphanage Trust and Zia Charitable Trust corruption cases, Hasina said: “She (Khaleda) embezzled money belonging to orphans … She took 140-day time after being sued. Why does she hide?
“The court granted her time plea 140 times. She is wasting time. She has changed court and now is on the run. Face the trial if you are innocent.”
About the BNP's stance on the next election, the prime minister said it was up to the BNP to decide whether or not they would not contest the polls. “But it not right to boycott and prevent the election from taking place,” she added.
The prime minister also spoke about Bangladesh's development, saying the economic development since 2009 has been outstanding.
“Many had ridiculed when we spoke about building digital Bangladesh. Today, the whole country is under internet coverage … We will provide electricity to every household within 2021. We are going to launch a satellite this December,” she added.
Zulfiqer Russell, editor of Bangla Tribune, is reporting from the UNGA Summit. This article was published on Bangla Tribune.
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