The heads of state and government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) have underscored the importance of creating “conducive conditions” in Rakhine State for the voluntary return of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar in a “safe, secure and dignified” manner.
They also stressed the implementation of the arrangement of Rohingya repatriation signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Bangladesh has been hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdown on them in Rakhine State.
The 18th Summit of the heads of state and government of NAM, a forum of 120 member countries, 17 observer countries and 10 observer organisations, was held on October 25-26 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also attended the Summit.
The Summit was preceded by the Preparatory Senior Officials Meeting on October 21-22 and the Preparatory Ministerial Meeting on October 23-24.
At the NAM Baku Summit, Azerbaijan took over the chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement for the next three years, said an official.
On October 24, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee called for sanctions against Myanmar military-run companies and commanders responsible for serious rights violations.
Lee told the UN General Assembly in New York that she sees no discernable improvement to the situation in Myanmar and called for targeted sanctions against the Tatmadaw’s (Myanmar Army) companies and its commanders most responsible for serious violations.
She said the Security Council must refer the entire situation to the International Criminal Court or establish an international tribunal to try alleged perpetrators of international crimes, according to a message received here from Geneva.
The heads of state and government at NAM reiterated their “concern” over the humanitarian situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
They condemned all acts of violence, including attacks on Myanmar security forces, and those committed by any party that adversely affect unarmed civilians and resulted in loss of lives and the displacement of large numbers of people.
They stressed the need to “find a comprehensive and durable solution” to address the root causes of the conflict and create conducive environment by Myanmar so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives in Rakhine State, according an official document seen by UNB correspondent.
The heads of state and government encouraged Myanmar to implement the recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, according to Baku Summit outcome document.
They also noted the renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed among Myanmar, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on May 28, 2019 and stressed the importance of its implementation.
They welcomed ASEAN’s efforts to support Myanmar government in providing humanitarian assistance and facilitate the repatriation process through the work of the ASEAN Secretary-General and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).
They also noted the recent mission of the ASEAN-ERAT to conduct the preliminary needs assessment (PNA) in Rakhine and looked forward to the implementation of the recommendations contained in PNA.
The heads of state and government commended the ongoing work of the NAM caucus in strengthening the position and role of the Movement in the Peacebuilding Commission.
In this regard, they expressed their appreciation for the efforts of Bangladesh during its chairmanship of the NAM caucus.
They further encouraged the non-aligned members of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Non-Aligned countries which are on its agenda, to actively participate in the NAM Caucus to ensure its purposeful contribution to the Peacebuilding activities of the United Nations.
PM for Voluntary Return
Calling upon the world community to address the Rohingya crisis, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in safety, security and dignity was the only solution to the crisis.
The crisis not only destabilises Bangladesh but also territories beyond the country, she said at the plenary session of the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baku.
“We’re currently hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas. It has the potential to destabilise our country and beyond. We’re constrained to seek support of the international community in resolving the crisis. Voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in the Rakhine State in safety, security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis,” said Hasina.
The session titled “Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of contemporary world” was held at Baku Congress Centre.
Hasina said the Rohingya crisis is a political one deeply rooted in Myanmar. “Thus, its solution has to be found inside Myanmar.”
Despite the socio-economic successes, Bangladesh is currently dealing with two challenges -- Rohingya crisis and adverse impacts of climate change, she said.
Meanwhile, during meetings with Hasina at Baku Congress Centre, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad assured her of help in resolving the Rohingya crisis.
About impacts of the climate change, Hasina at the plenary session said although Bangladesh has little responsibility for global warming, it is suffering heavily from its devastating impacts.
“The international response to climate change, particularly that of developed countries, must, therefore, fully respect the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” she said.
The PM said Bangladesh has been making unprecedented socio-economic progress. “Our GDP growth has now reached 8.13 percent. We’re making continuous efforts in strengthening democracy and justice by empowering people, especially women.”
She pointed out that Bangladesh’s successes in poverty reduction, primary healthcare, women’s empowerment, gender equality and gender parity in education have been widely acclaimed by the international community.
Hasina said Bangladesh is a country of religious harmony. “We’ve taken tough stance against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and corruption. Our actions have restored peace and stability in the society.”
About Palestine, the PM said the Palestine question is one of the most difficult problems in recent history.
“Justice for the people of Palestine remains elusive due to a lack of strong actions by the international community to ensure accountability of the Israeli occupation forces. Bangladesh firmly believes the illegal occupation must come to an end.”
Hasina congratulated Azerbaijan for assuming the chairmanship of NAM and assured Bangladesh’s full support and cooperation to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.
She said Bangladesh is a strong believer in the goals of NAM, noting that the NAM principles have in many ways defined the foreign policy of Bangladesh.
In 1973, recognising the importance of NAM, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman decided to join the organisation in its Algiers’ Summit.
“Peace and security is an overriding concern for us. Prejudice, ignorance and vested interests stand in the way of world peace and harmony,” said Hasina.
She said misunderstanding and cross-cultural ignorance are among the root causes of conflict. In the age of globalisation and digitalisation, clashes among cultures, too, can have damaging impact on peace and security.
“We must remind ourselves that it took thousands of years of efforts to achieve contemporary values of modern civilisation. We must strive together for peace, stability and harmony. We must move beyond minority-majority mindset,” Hasina said.
While the United Nations is primarily responsible for dealing with violent conflicts in many parts of the world, NAM can play an active role in the protection, maintenance and consolidation of peace, she said.
“We should work together to utilise the strength and influence of NAM to prevent any country from destabilising any region,” she said.
She said Bangladesh considers disarmament as an instrument for enhancing international security and has always been active in promoting disarmament. Bangladesh has also pledged firm and determined commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and its peaceful use, she added.
With the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, NAM principles are once again upheld at the UN, said the PM.
“We should stand together in conforming to what we agreed in 2015 to reduce inequality within and among countries,” she said.
Iran on Rohingya Issue
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said his country will work to mount pressure on Myanmar from international side to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“We’ll work to create international pressure on Myanmar (to resolve the Rohingya crisis),” he said during a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the bilateral booth of Baku Congress Center on October 25.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque later told reporters that the Iranian leader said they would continue their support to Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has assured Dhaka that Kuala Lumpur and other Asean member states will do whatever necessary for resolving the Rohingya crisis which is hurting Bangladesh a lot.
“Malaysia and Asean counties will do whatever necessary (to solve Rohingya crisis),” Mahathir said during a meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina at the bilateral booth of Baku Congress Center on October 25.
Briefing reporters, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said Mahathir strongly feels that there was a genocide committed on Rohingyas and this should be brought to book.
He strongly condemned the oppression on the Rohingyas in Myanmar and said that Malaysian field hospital in Cox's Bazar will be continued.
He requested Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to inform him about Bhashanchar where Bangladesh has prepared shelter for the Rohibgyas temporarily.
Sheikh Hasina told him about the security and other related issues for the Rohingyas in Bashanchar as well as the present condition of Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar.
Mahathir also talked about the safety and security of the Bangladeshi expatriates living in Malaysia and said that his government would try to take more manpower from Bangladesh.
He also mentioned that Malaysian investment in Bangladesh will be increased as the relations between the two countries are deeply rooted.