Rohingya repatriation: Bangladesh still wants to keep confidence in China

Rohingya exodus from their homeland, making their way to Bangladesh
Rohingya exodus from their homeland, making their way to Bangladesh Reuters file photo

As in earlier times, due to China’s veto, the United Nations Security Council has failed yet again to agree on a joint statement condemning the military coup in Myanmar. However, Bangladesh still wants to keep its confidence in China to make Myanmar agree on Rohingya repatriation.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momem said this while talking to newsmen at his office on Wednesday. He said, “We have confidence in China. They have come forward to take initiative and some progress has been made.”

Meantime, a tripartite meeting scheduled for Thursday regarding Rohingya repatriation with China’s mediation, has been postponed. Director general of the foreign ministry’s Myanmar wing, ambassadors of Myanmar and China in Dhaka, Bangladesh envoy in Myanmar and director general of the country’s foreign ministry from Yangon were expected to join the virtual meeting. Director general of China’s foreign ministry was set to join the meeting from Beijing.

Regarding confidence in China on the Rohingya repatriation issue, Abdul Momen said, “We have reached out to everyone reagrding Rohingya issue. We have reached out to all countries in the world and the UN. We have gone to the ICJ (International Court of Justice) and the ICC (International Criminal Court). Everyone has only given lip service.”

Asked about the tripartite talks on Rohingya repatriation, the minister said, they couldn’t communicate with Myanmar. Communications are shut there. Contact has been made with Myanmar and China embassies in Dhaka. No progress was reported till Wednesday.

Abdul Momen said, “We want to continue the process of the talks on Rohingya repatriation. Our agreement is with the government of Myanmar, not with any individuals. That’s why the process should continue”.

Citing Rohingya repatriation took place during the military rules in Myanmar in 1978 and 1992, the minister said, “Why it will not happen this time? This is an opportunity for Myanmar. If the repatriation takes place, they can show that have communication with others and that other countries are with them. They should use the opportunity.”

Asked whether more influx of Rohingyas is likely due to the power shift in Myanmar, the foreign minister said, “Some countries fear an influx may start. Many western countries expressed their concern. We have closed the border.”

Regarding the role of China in resolving long-standing problems like the Rohingya crisis, former ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad said, no matter what anyone says, Bangladesh will have to work with the most powerful country of this region. It can be any country — China, Japan, India, Singapore or the ASEAN countries. After all, now matter how the US may threaten from the distance, it is is difficult to say what they will eventually do, he added.

Munshi Faiz went on to say that Myanmar, having faced sanctions for long, had become adept at tackling these situations. He said, once China was a regional power. Now the country it has become a global power. So if China lends its hand to Bangladesh, the government should accept it, he added.

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