Chittagong, Bangladesh: Bangladesh protested the recent comments of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi about Rohingyas – terming illrgal immigrants from Bangladesh – in the Arakan state on November 18, according to the foreign ministry press release.
The foreign ministry said it was surprised at such comments were clearly inconsistent with the position of the Burmese government, and the action taken by them to resolve the issue over the past several years.
In an interview with Indian news channel NDTV, Burmese democracy leader Suu Kyi had said Rohingyas are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, while visited India within this month recently.
“Is there a lot of illegal crossing of the border (with Bangladesh) still going on? We have got to put a stop to it otherwise there will never be an end to the problem.”
“Bangladesh will say all these people have come from Burma (Myanmar) and the Burmese say all these people have come over from Bangladesh.”
“Don’t forget that violence has been committed by both sides, this is why I prefer not to take sides and also I want to work towards reconciliation,” Suu Kyi told the news channel.
The statement said historical evidence showed that people of Rohingya ethnicity had been living in the Arakan 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 Arakan state long before 16th December 1971.
It said since Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent state, there had been occasional influxes of Burmese nationals of Rohingya ethnicity from that country to Bangladesh due to “internal situation in their homeland.”
The last such major influx took place in 1991-92 when 250,877 Myanmar nationals of Rohingya ethnicity took refuge in Bangladesh.
Of them, the Burmese government took back 236,599 refugees through a tripartite agreement between Bangladesh, Myanmar and UNHCR after verification of their backgrounds as people of Burmese origin.
Moreover, the statement said around 400,000-500,000 Burmese nationals of Rohingya ethnicity had subsequently crossed the border from Burma illegally into Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh and Burma are working closely to resolve this longstanding issue and to move forward in exploring the enormous potentials for bilateral cooperation on the repatriation of the residual Burmese refugees with the support of UNHCR.”
“It is good to see Dhaka react to Suu Kyi’s comments. I wish the government was smart enough to utilize the latest crisis to bring world pressure on Thein Sein regime to solve the problem amicably and justly,” according to Dr. Habib Siddique.