President Abdul Hamid on Sunday urged the OIC member states and the international community to come forward to resolve the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and ensure the worst persecuted Rohingya Muslims’ rights to live and return to their homeland Rakhine State with safety and dignity.
“…I would like to take this opportunity to draw your kind attention to the need for protecting Rohingya Muslims as they are deprived of all rights, including citizenship, and faced with existential threat due to repeated atrocities and displacements,” he said.
The President was addressing the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology at the Palace of Independence in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Hamid informed the OIC leaders that Bangladesh is directly affected with this problem as Rohingyas are crossing the border into Bangladesh. “Bangladesh has given shelter to them only on a humanitarian ground,” he said.
The Rohingyas are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar who have faced discrimination and extreme poverty for decades. In the last two weeks, an estimated 270,000 Rohingya refugees (Now 300,000) have sought shelter in Bangladesh, according to the UNHCR.
Highlighting the advancement of technology, Hamid said science, technology and innovation are a key to improving the quality of life and transforming society while the 21st century’s technology is profoundly changing faster than any time before, bringing greater ease in work and communication, drastically reducing time and space barriers, and increasing speed and productivity.
Observing that nations with varying level and stages of advancement in technology are competing with each other to keep their technological edge and superiority, he said disruptive innovations are leaving some behind and taking some ahead creating another divide in the world. “This unfortunate process started centuries ago when we could not keep pace with the West’s technology after Renaissance.”
To bring back the intellectual leadership in science which the Muslims once had enjoyed, the President stressed adopting a scientific view of life, investing in pursuit of knowledge and exploration, engaging in coordinated and dedicated research and development, applying new innovations in all areas of life, and quickly adapting to technology.
“I believe, our cooperation in science and technology would generate more synergy and dynamism for the Ummah and enhance the image and standing of the Muslims in the world.
“We must also involve, to our advantage, Muslim scientists, researchers, and innovators flourishing in the developed world for research and development and industrial collaboration,” he said.
Noting that many OIC member states have similar strength and prospects in different areas and they can complement each other, Hamid said these states need partnership, platforms and mechanisms for dedicated projects on bilateral, joint and collective basis aiming to utilise the prospects.
Terming science and technology a game-changer in poverty alleviation and development, he proposed taking joint plan of action for selecting, using and tasking institutions in the member states for research and development collaboration with OIC institutional support, taking up specialised high-tech industry, and developing mechanisms, networks and associations of scientists and entrepreneurs.
“We must continue our collective journey in science and technology until the gravity shifts and the Muslim world stands on the vantage ground of technology leadership in place of mere technology use,” he added.
Highlighting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Vision – ‘Digital Bangladesh’, the President said Bangladesh has made enviable advancement in life sciences evident in its emerging industry of pharmaceuticals and alternative medicine and high-tech industries like ocean-going ship building.
He said Bangladesh has also achieved a marked progress in agriculture with innovations of high-yield climate resilient crop varieties and decoding of jute and buffalo genomes; in space and satellite technology with project of launching Bangabandhu satellite; and in nuclear technology to meet health and clean energy needs.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef Al Othaimeen, among others, spoke on the occasion.