• Monday, Dec 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Saudi envoy: Rohingyas with Bangladeshi passports considered Bangladeshis

  • Published at 11:17 am January 17th, 2021
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's BazarSyed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

‘They’re not Bangladeshi citizens who are from Myanmar, they’re Myanmar citizens,’ says Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan

Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh Issa bin Youssef Al-Duhailan on Sunday said they are considering those Rohingyas as Bangladeshis who have been to Saudi Arabia with Bangladeshi passports.

“They came with Bangladeshi passports to Saudi Arabia,” he told reporters explaining why they are terming them “Bangali people”.

After attending a food baskets distribution ceremony at a city hotel, the Saudi ambassador said they have already sent a list of 55,000 people who lost their documents or whose documents’ validity got expired.

He said their documents just need to be renewed or reissued and there is a high-level committee with relevant authorities in Bangladesh to study their issues. “We’re working very hard together.”

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan who was present at the same program said the government will surely provide passports if the Bangladeshis are there in the group who do not have passports.

He said the Rohingyas who went to Saudi Arabia identifying themselves as Bangladeshis with Bangladeshi passports will be considered if they apply for renewing passports.

“They’re not Bangladeshi citizens who are from Myanmar, they’re Myanmar citizens. It’s clear,” said the Home Minister.

He said the Rohingya issue is a very old one, around 50 to 60 years’ old issue and the Saudi Arabia was so generous to take Rohingyas in the past. “The Rohingyas live in a particular area of a Saudi city.”

The home minister said Bangladesh saw the huge influx in August 2017 and over 1.1 million Rohingyas are now living in Bangladesh.

He thanked the Saudi government for its support towards Rohingya repatriation efforts apart from extending the humanitarian ones for the persecuted people.

The home minister said Bangladesh continues its efforts on all fronts for the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State, and hoped that the Saudi government will continue its support.

He said the relationship between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia will be strengthened further in the coming days.

Also read - Ambassador Miller: Dhaka-Washington ties to get stronger under Biden administration

The Saudi ambassador said the proposed visit of Saudi foreign minister has been postponed due to his domestic engagement and new circumstances, and the visit will take place soon to discuss bilateral relations.

Rohingya repatriation progress

Meanwhile, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China will hold a tripartite meeting virtually on Tuesday to discuss ways to expedite the Rohingya repatriation process as the international community finds the repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar as the only solution to the crisis.

Vice Minister of China Luo Zhaohui will virtually join the meeting from Beijing with Bangladesh and Myanmar delegations, a senior official told UNB on Sunday.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh has handed over a list of 840,000 Rohingyas to Myanmar for verification.

"Myanmar has verified very few people. They're very slow. They have only verified 42,000 people. There’s a serious lack of seriousness," said the foreign minister.

Dr Momen said they are doing their part but Myanmar is not helping the same way.

He said he is always hopeful of beginning repatriation as history says they took back their nationals in 1978 and 1992.

People live in hope and Rohingya refugees also do so and thus they spent another year, 2020, hoping that they would have a dignified return to their homeland in Myanmar. But the hope for a better day did not come.     

More than three years ago, Myanmar’s soldiers “targeted, killed, and raped” Rohingyas and burned down their villages, as the United Nations, Refugees International, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the US State Department itself and many others have documented.

Over 800,000 Rohingyas fled the “genocidal violence” and Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. 

Bangladesh is trying in multiple ways — bilaterally, multilaterally, tri-laterally and through the judicial system — to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017. On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

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