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Dhaka has expressed surprise over Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's recent comments about Rohingyas in her country's Rakhine state terming them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

In a press statement yesterday, the foreign ministry said such comments were clearly inconsistent with the position of the Myanmar government, and the action taken by them to resolve the issue over the past several years.

Suu Kyi on November 13 in India described the recent violence in west Myanmar between Buddhists and Muslims as a "huge international tragedy", saying illegal immigration from Bangladesh had to be stopped.

Giving a long historical background, the foreign ministry particularly mentioned that the Myanmar government had accepted 236,599 Myanmar refugees of Rohingya ethnicity after their own process of verification.

“There is, therefore, no question that these people had moved from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

“It is the sincere expectation of the Bangladesh government that all concerned will refrain from making statements that are without any basis in fact,” the statement said.

Bangladesh will remain engaged with Myanmar for a durable solution to this outstanding issue in the spirit of good neighbourliness, it added.

The foreign ministry also said historic evidence shows that people of Rohingya ethnicity have been living in the Rakhine state for centuries, whereas Bangladesh came into existence only in 1971.

Therefore, there was no reason to ascribe Bangladesh nationality to these people living in the Rakhine state long before 16th December 1971.

Subsequent to Bangladesh's emergence as an independent state, there had been occasional influxes of Myanmar nationals of Rohingya ethnicity from Myanmar to Bangladesh due to internal situations in their homeland, the statement read.

The last such major influx took place in 1991-92 when 250,877 Myanmar nationals of Rohingya ethnicity took refuge in Bangladesh.

Of these, the Myanmar government took back 236,599 refugees through a tripartite agreement between Bangladesh, Myanmar and UNHCR after verification of their antecedents as people of Myanmar origin.

The remaining Myanmar refugees, along with their offsprings, were staying in two refugee camps in Bangladesh.

A quarter of these residual refugees were verified and confirmed by the Myanmar government as their nationals.

In addition to the above caseload of refugees, a large number of Myanmar nationals, again of Rohingya ethnicity, had subsequently crossed the border and illegally entered Bangladesh.

In numerous interactions at various levels, including during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Myanmar in December 2011, the Myanmar government had assured Bangladesh to take back these undocumented Myanmar nationals after verification of their origin.

"Bangladesh has noted with appreciation the recent decision of the Myanmar government to review their citizenship laws to ensure inclusive nationality for all members of Myanmar society," the statement said.

Bangladesh also expects that this review would uphold accepted international standards in determining the nationality of all people living in Myanmar, it added.

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It is much to be regretted that Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate, should overlook the sectarian violence on the Muslim Rohingas by the Rakhine Buddhists of her country. She is rather making matters worse by trying to internationalize an internal problem. Contrary to facts, she has wrongly raised her fingers at Bangladeshi infiltration into Rakhine state. How could she ignore the displacement of more than 100,000 persons only in the last six months? Their houses have been burnt, hundred killed, their property looted, women raped. The human tragedy has been termed by some as genocidal -and 90 per cent of the victims are Rohingas. That the Muslim community is deprived of their citizenship and that thousands still remain stranded in the coastal waters without food and nutrition is a moving humanitarian tale rarely to be witnessed in recent decades. By failing to rise up to the occasion, she has lost much of her charisma, prudence, quality of leadership and above all her hall-mark to be the champion of democratic rights of people. We pray that she realizes her mistakes and play a constructive role in the reconciliation of the two communities.

: Dr. Iftikhar-ul-Awwal

Oh please. As poor as Bangladesh may be, we are a million miles ahead of Myanmar. Bangladeshis would have to be fools to migrate to Myanmar.

: Faisal





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