Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today accused Buddhist-majority Myanmar of committing “atrocities” on Rohingya Muslims, saying Dhaka will not tolerate any kind of injustice and its protest will continue. She also asked Myanmar to “take steps” to take back its nationals who have fled to Bangladesh following the violence. “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,” Hasina said after visiting a Rohingya refugee camp near the border town of Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district.
She assured the refugees that Bangladesh would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to them. “As long as they don’t return to their country we will remain beside them,” she said. “Bangladesh is a country of 16 crore people and we have ensured their basic needs, we also have capability to provide all kinds of help including food and healthcare services to the Myanmar refugees,” she said. “We will not tolerate injustice,” she said, referring to the ethnic violence in neighbouring country that has forced at least 313,000 people to take shelter in Bangladesh.
According to UN estimates, over 1,000 people may have been killed in the crackdown launched by the Myanmar Army in the Rakhine state since August 25 when a fresh wave of violence erupted there. Bangladesh had earlier said the new influx of Rohingya refugees is an unbearable additional burden on the country which has been hosting around 400,000 Myanmar nationals who had to leave their country in the past due to communal violence and repeated military operations. Hasina’s comments came after the parliament last night passed a resolution denouncing Myanmar for the atrocities and called upon the international community to mount intensified pressure on Naypyidaw to stop the atrocities and take back the refugees.
“A handful of people of a shadow group had staged the attack which we (Bangladesh) also condemned, but should the entire community of one million populations be punished for that,” the resolution read. Hasina today said that being the neighbour Bangladesh would extend cooperation whatever Naypyidaw needed “but they will have to first stop inhuman attitude towards these people in Rakhaine and provide them security.” “They (Rohingyas) are human beings and they will live as human beings…Myanmar has no right to deny the Rakhaine people as they are their citizens,” she added.
Hasina said the massive exodus of its own population tarnished Myanmar’s image as “this is not a dignified thing for a country”. Rohingyas have faced decades of discrimination and persecution in Myanmar and are denied citizenship despite centuries-olds roots in the Rakhine region.