Talk Show Transcription:
Channel-ATN News on 26 April 2017
Talk Show: News Hour Xtra
Topic: Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh
Anchor: Munni Shaha
Guests: Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary, Major General (Retired)Anup Kumar Chakma, Former Bangladeshi Ambassador to Burma, Ahmed Rabby Tanim, Journalist & Moinuddin Khan Badal, General Secretary, JASHAD.
A special Chinese delegate has come to Dhaka to mediate between Bangladesh and Burma regarding the long awaited Rohingya crisis. One of the most important issues Bangladesh has been seeking help from its international allies to resolve the issue permanently. Bangladesh government has recently taken a decision to shift the Rohingya refugee camp to a remote island named Thengarchar. This decision has been criticized severely by different political and civil bodies since it gives Burma another point to put the Rohingya burden on the shoulder of Bangladesh. Is it another way to legitimize Rohingyas in Bangladesh?
Anchor Munni Saha sought opinions from Moinuddin Khan Badal regarding this issue.
Badal criticized this decision as well and said, "If we give a permanent shelter to Rohingyas by shifting their refugee camps from Cox’s Bazaar to Thengarchar, then the day will come when Burma will tell us that Rohingyas are our citizens and we should take care of them the way we are doing it now. It is absolutely an absurd idea to move Rohingyas to another new location instead of sending them back to Burma."
Regarding the situation of Thengarchar, Shahidul Haque said, "Our official team is currently inspecting the entire Thengarchar area. We will shift the Rohingyas only when the new place will be completely livable. So there will be no humanitarian crisis in the new location. Another point about the Chinese delegate, we have talked with their team. We have talked about our stand and what we believe in. There are 400,000 Rohingya refugees currently living in Bangladesh. All of them came from Burma. Bangladesh wants these Rohingyas to be shifted as soon as possible. The root of the problem is in Burma, so we want to end this in a way that it goes back t Burma and resolves there. We want to resolve this problem bilaterally. We have been contacting Burma for years. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they do not."
Saha raised two questions back to back. She asked, "Rohingyas often illegally use Bangladesh passport and commit crimes in different countries. Ultimately, Bangladeshis have to suffer and pay for Rohingya’s crime. On the other hand if we move Rohingya refugees to a new place, what will be the reaction of Burma? What will we do if they tell us that Rohingyas are completely our responsibility that is why we have shifted Rohingya refugees in new location?"
Haque replied, "Nothing is final yet. Bangladesh has always been thinking from the humanitarian ground. Government is trying to give a comfortable living to the refugees, not permanent residence. This temporary shift is not connected with residency. One more thing I would like to mention is, national security is our prime concern, that is true, but we should not victimize a particular community being over concerned."
Ahmed Rabby Tanim has been covering stories regarding Rohingya for a long time. He said, "Pakistan based militant groups are trying to fuel terrorism among Rohingyas. Also there is a big syndicate of drugs, arms, and human trafficking. Mainly they are creating tension regarding this location shifting. The head of this syndicate is known as King of Rohingyas, his name is Bokhtiar, a local member of union council. The entire syndicate is run by him. They are involved in all sorts of criminal activities. So why are they being shifted to Thengarchar? They can spread the crimes of borders in the inside of borders now. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and ambassadors of Britain, United States, and Philippines have visited the refugee camp. All of them said that Burma has to take the Rohingyas back. Then why are we going away from that position? And does the government has the ability, manpower, and infrastructural arrangement to build a new place for Rohingya refugees in Thengarchar? How the government will ensure it?
Haque replied, "I do not know where you get the information about our stand. However, we can assure you that we are strong in our stand that Burmese government has to solve their own problem and must take Rohingya refugees back. We are working bilaterally and also lobbying with countries that have friendly relation with us. We have welcomed the report of Annan. If that report needs any kind of assistance for implementation, Bangladesh will always be there for any kind of support."
Anup Kumar Chakma said, "A group wants this problem to sustain because they can take advantage of it. This group is involved with drugs, arms, and human trafficking. So if the Rohingya refugee is solved, then this group will ultimately suffer. This group poses a threat to the entire Chittagong hill tracts area and border areas with Burma. So I think that can be a reason for shifting the refugee camp to Thengarchar."
The show ended with a note where all the speakers hoped that the Rohingya refugee crisis soon will end by the bilateral and multilateral attempt and cooperation.