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Shahriar Alam on Rohingya affairs: We are in better position now

  • Published at 06:55 pm February 5th, 2019
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam speaks at a discussion on the Rohingya affairs in Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

According to Shahriar, the real challenge for them was to keep the issue alive in the international community as several incidents were taking place around the world

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam on Tuesday said Bangladesh is now in a better position than Myanmar to negotiate over the Rohingya issue with bigger economies like China and Russia.

The state minister for foreign affairs made the remarks while attending a discussion titled 

“Resolving the Rohingya Crisis: Potential Long Term Implications” as a chief guest in Dhaka.

The High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh organized the program, in collaboration with Reading Club Trust.

“They (China and Russia) want us to be patient and remain engaged with Myanmar, which we have actually done,” he said. “We can say that we have listened to both countries and are now in a position to tell them to go to Myanmar and tell them that things cannot go this way.”

According to Shahriar, the real challenge for them was to keep the issue alive in the international community, as several incidents have been taking place around the world.

“To resolve the problem, we need to trust each other,” the state minister remarked. “The neighbouring partners knew about the measures we were taking, and they are now convinced.”

Earlier, Bob Rae, Canadian Prime Minister’s special envoy to Myanmar,said in his speech that Myanmar’s government had found itself in a favourable global environment, thanks to India and China accepting Myanmar’s official narrative.

A politically distant and distracted US administration, as well as other Western countries faced with numerous challenges, hindered them from taking more robust actions, he added.

He also remarked on the issue of long-term relationseffects between locals and the refugees. 

Bob recommended taking a midterm transitional plan before successful repatriation. 

“No temporary or long-term (plans).We need to make a transitional plan for the Rohingyas,” he observed.

Rohingya children should be provided education, skills and means of survival, he added.

Otherwise, there was the potential that the Rohingyas would turn to crime and radicalization, which has far more impact in the region, the special envoy said.  

The Canadian lawyer praised Bangladesh for maintaining political and economic ties with Myanmar.

“Despite domestic pressure over the Rohingya issue, Bangladesh authorities have refrained from actions that may endanger growing commercial ties,” he added.

When asked about a transition plan, Shahriar Alam said the government knows about international organizations wanting them to introduce full-fledged humanitarian services for the Rohingyas.

“But they also need to remember that the government is dealing with millions of people who never had education, as well as 400,000 children who have never received immunization nor visited clinics. Whatever Bangladesh initiated was new for them, and better than what they received in Myanmar,” he added.

Bangladesh would do their best for these displaced people within its capacity, the state minister said.  

Former Election Commissioner Brigadier General (retd) M Sakhawat Hussain, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) president Major General (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, Ambassador M Humayun Kabir and Raja Devasish Roy also spoke during the occasion.

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