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Rohingya crisis: Momen says Myanmar’s attitude has softened

  • Published at 05:35 pm December 15th, 2019
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen
File photo: Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen Focus Bangla

Bangladesh Army chief’s recent Naypyidaw visit was also ‘very good,’ says the foreign minister

A couple of days after the hearings on provisional measures in the genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said that the neighbouring country’s attitude regarding the Rohingya crisis has softened up than before.

Talking to reporters at his office in Dhaka yesterday, the minister maintained that Myanmar was a friend, adding Naypyidaw has invited him to visit and he was considering it.

He also described the recent visit of Bangladesh Army’s Chief of Staff Gen Aziz Ahmed to Myanmar as “very good,” and said a new channel of communication that was opened during that trip would be good for Bangladesh.

The minister’s remarks came after Myanmar faced a three-day-long hearing on provisional measures sought by Gambia at the UN highest court, in a Rohingya genocide case filed by the West African nation against the Southeast Asian country.

“While speaking to us, it is seen that their attitude, compared to before, has softened up a little bit. They have invited us to visit their country. These are good initiatives,” said the minister.

“Such invitation was extended before. But, I had said that I will go after the Rohingyas returned to their homes. Then, I will be able to meet them over there. They have asked me again to go. Let’s see what can be done,” he said.

“No time [for the visit] has been fixed yet and they are yet to send me a formal invitation,” Momen said, adding: “They [Myamar] have informed us informally. Let’s see.”

He further said: “I rather want them [Myanmar officials] to come and meet their people [Rohingyas] and understand their hope. This is how the repatriation might be easy.”

“When they formally invite me, I am contemplating giving them this proposal.”

The foreign minister also said: “Our [previous] foreign minister visited Myanmar before. Always, there is reciprocity. They [Myanmar officials] should come frequently for their own people and talk to them.”

Asked for his thoughts on the ICJ hearings, he said: “I looking at it positively. It has now been established worldwide that a horrific situation has been created in Rakhine, which was described by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights as a classic example of ethnic cleansing while the French president called it genocide.”

At the hearings, he said Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi did not deny the killings, but only wanted to shift the blame on others. “But she did not deny the fact that the killings have taken place in Rakhine.”

About another process initiated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Momen said that procedure will continue and that ICC may hold individuals accountable.

“It is their [ICC] process. We won’t obstruct them,” he said.

To a question, the foreign minister termed army chief Gen Aziz’s visit to Myanmar “very good.”

When asked about the rationale of the visit amidst ICJ hearings and sanctions by countries on senior Myanmar generals, he said: “You see, this program was fixed long time ago. We feel good about the fact that another channel of communication has opened up.”

“It is good for our country. We are a friendly country. Myanmar is not our enemy. They are our friend. So, if there are more channels of communication, we are happy with that. Since the Myanmar military has a special place in that country, this kind of communication is much better,” he added.

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