Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought expeditious UN and global interventions to protect all civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine State irrespective of religion and ethnicity and take effective steps for a permanent solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, the premier urged the UN secretary general to immediately send there a “Fact-Finding Mission” and suggested several other steps to stop the ethnic cleansing.
“Firstly, Myanmar must unconditionally stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State immediately and forever,” she said in her address at the UN headquarters.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh call to create “safe zones” under UN supervision in Myanmar for the protection of all civilian population irrespective of religion and ethnicity and unconditional implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission recommendations to resolve the crisis.
She called for ensuring “sustainable return” of all forcibly displaced Myanmar Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes saying these people must be able to return to their homeland in safety and securely with dignity.
The Bangladesh premier said it was the 14th time she was addressing the UN General Assembly, but this time she came to New York with a heavy heart just after seeing the “hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingyas” who took refuge in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar fleeing their home to evade atrocities.
“Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas from the Rakhine State are entering Bangladesh to flee violence. As estimated by IOM, in last three weeks over four hundred thirty thousand Rohingyas entered Bangladesh,” she told the UN’s annual meet.
Sheikh Hasina added: “This forcibly displaced people of Myanmar are fleeing an ‘ethnic cleansing’ in their own country where they have been living for centuries.”
The premier said currently Bangladesh was sheltering over 800,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas of Myanmar while the ongoing atrocities and human rights violations in the Rakhine State “once again aggravated the situation at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border”.
“We are horrified to see that the Myanmar authorities are laying landmines along their stretch of the border to prevent the Ronhingyas from returning to their native homes,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina simultaneously condemned all kinds of terrorism and violent extremism in Myanmar saying her government maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against terrorism in any forms and manifestation.
Sheikh Hasina thanked the UN Security Council members and also the UN secretary general for their proactive attempts to denounce the atrocities on Rohingya people in Myanmar and call for bringing in peace, and stability in Rakhine.
“We don’t want war.
We want peace . . . we want people’s wellbeing – not destruction of humanity. We want sustainable development. Let this be our collective goal,” she said.
The prime minister recalled Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s very first speech in UNGA in 1974 expressing Bengali nation’s commitment towards peace and justice.
“I know that the souls of our martyrs join us in pledging that the Bengalee nation fully commits itself to the building of a world order in which the aspirations of all men for peace and justice will be realized,” she quoted Bangabandhu as telling the 1974 UNGA.
Sheih Hasina reiterated Bangladesh’s firm commitment to the peace and democracy saying “since our birth as a nation, we have pursued peace-centric domestic and foreign policies”.
With that spirit, she said, Bangladesh took the lead in tabling the resolution on ‘Culture of Peace’ every year in the General Assembly since 2000.
The Bangladesh premier put emphasis on resuming the Middle East Peace Process and called for ending all forms of hostilities and iscriminations against the brotherly Palestinian people.
Sheikh Hasina said UN had a potential role in developing a peace-building architecture while Bangladesh awaited “bold and innovative proposals” from the UN secretary general on financing for ‘sustaining peace’.
The Bangladesh premier renewed her call to stop weapon supplying to the terrorists and terror financing and settlement of all international disputes peacefully as terrorism and violent extremism posed a major threat to peace, stability and development.
“Terrorists have no religion, belief or race . . . having been a target of a number of terrorist attacks myself, I personally empathize with the victims of terrorism and appreciate their need for protection,” she said.
The prime minister also urged the UN to address the growing threats emanated from the cyber space to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and other transnational organized crimes.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated her call to the international community to recognise the barbaric atrocities of Pakistani occupation force on the Bengalis in 1971 as “genocide” and March 25, 1971 as the “International Genocide Day”.
“Collective actions are needed to prevent recurrence of any such heinous crime in anywhere and anytime in the world,” she said justifying her demands.