Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged neighbouring Myanmar to stop inhuman persecution on ethnic minorities in its Rakhaine and return the refugees saying Bangladesh wants friendly relations with Naypyidaw but not tolerate injustice.
“We want peace and a friendly relation with neighbouring countries . . . (but) we cannot allow and accept any kind of unjust and our protest will continue to this end,” she said.
The premier made the comments as she visited the Kutupalong Refugee Camp as surges of displaced Myanmar people hit Bangladesh since eruption of violence their northern Rakhine State last month.
Sheikh Hasina also distributed relief among the Myanmar nationals who took makeshift refuge at Kutupalong Refugee Camp and assured them of her government continued humanitarian assistance.
Sheikh Hasina said the government will continue to providing food and medical treatment to the Myanmar refugees and there will be no problem in this regard.
“We must stay beside the Myanmar refugees and extend all kinds of help to them . . . as long as they don’t return to their country we will remain beside them,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina added: “Bangladesh is a country of 16 crore people and we’ve ensured their basic needs, we have also a capability to provide all kinds of help including food and healthcare services to the Myanmar refugees.”
The premier simultaneously renewed her call upon international community to mount intensified pressures on Myanmar authorities to stop torture on its ethnic minority population in Rakhaine and take back the Myanmar refugees from Bangladesh.
“They (Rakhine refugees) are human beings and they will live as human beings . . . why they will sustain such miseries?” she said.
Sheikh Hasina added: “Myanmar has no rights to deny the Rakhaine people as they are their citizens’. . . it will have to provide security to these people so that remain safe in their country,” she added.
The premier said being a neighbouring country Bangladesh would extend cooperation whatever Naypyidaw needed “but they will have to first stop inhuman attitude towards these people in Rakhaine,” she said.
Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana, housing minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, road transport minister and Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader, disaster management minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, parliamentary chief whip ASM Feroze, state minister for land Saifuzzaman Chowdhury Javed, whip Iqbalur Rahim, AL Joint Secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif were present.
Army chief general Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq and Sheikh Rehana’s daughter-in-law and senior IMO official Peppi Siddiq and lawmakers from the region also accompanied the premier during the visit.
Sehikh Hasina drew Myanmar’s attention to the fact that the massive exodus of its own population was tarnishing its image saying “this is not a dignified thing for a country” while asking them take back the refugees.
She said Bangladesh was faced with protracted insurgency problems in its southeastern hills but it returned 64,000 refugees from India after the landmark 1996 peace agreement.
“We hope, Myanmar will take steps for returning back their nationals,” she said.
The prime minister also requested the local people to look after the Myanmar refugees so that they don’t suffer from miseries.
“The people in the neighbourhood especially the youths may not recall the Liberation War but we the elderly people still remember that memory. So we expect you to look after them so that they don’t feel any pain . . . you will assist them by looking at the humanity,” she said.
The prime minister mentioned that many international organisations extended their helping hands to the Myanmar refugees while “we have constituted relief committees and they are providing relief goods to the refugees,” she said.
Besides, the premier said, the ruling Awami League, local administration, army and other law enforcement agencies were providing the humanitarian services to the refugees.
Sheikh Hasina said the government was collecting name, address and identity of the Myanmar refugees.
“We know their problems and it’s our responsibility to look after them . . . that’s why we have taken these measures so that live here properly and don’t lead an inhuman life,” she said.
Blasting the Myanmar insurgents, the premier said this problem has arisen due to their misdeeds and called for undertaking due steps for stopping repeat of such incidents.
“Let the elements see for which such an abnormal situation has been created . . . how their near and dear ones are being victimized of torture and how the children and women are being suffered,” she posed a question.
“Is not their conscious stirred by seeing this?”
Sheikh Hasina said thousands of people are suffering and they became homeless due to the misdeeds of some elements and therefore “appropriate actions will have to taken so that such incidents are not reoccurred”.
The prime minister also urged all concerned to stay alert so that nobody builds his or her fate by capitalising the bad situation of the Myanmar refugees.
Later, the premier distributed relief materials among the refugees who have taken shelter to the Kutupalong Refugee Camp. She also talked to a number of refugees and consoled them and adored the minors.
A heart-rending scene was created when the refugees narrated their ordeal before Sheikh Hasina that they sustained due to the persecution of the Myanmar authorities.