Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged the global community to pursue available legal and multilateral mechanisms to ensure “accountability of the perpetrators who committed persistent … and systematic heinous atrocities” against the Rohingya.
At the 78th United Nations General Assembly High-Level Side Event titled “Have they forgotten us?”, she also called for keeping humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas and their repatriation on top of the agenda for a solution to the crisis created by Myanmar.
Bangladesh, with the co-sponsorship of Canada, Gambia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America organised the event.
PM Hasina focused on three specific areas: humanitarian aide, repatriation, and justice.
The PM said the Rohingya issue has now reached a point of stagnation. Not a single displaced Rohingya has been able to return to their homes in Myanmar in the last six years. Global attention to their needs is rapidly diminishing, she said, adding that it was evident in the increasing funding gaps in the humanitarian response plan.
“However, we cannot forget the Rohingyas. The 2017 exodus was not an isolated incident. They have been victims of persecution and exclusion in Myanmar for decades,” she said in the meeting.
“We need to ensure that they are able to return to their homes in Myanmar and pursue a life of dignity and certainty,” she stated.
She also added that, “We need to address the problem at its root, which lies in Myanmar. They (Rohingya) need protection and opportunities in their own country so that they do not have to flee from their homes.”
Hasina also focused on the current status of the repatriation efforts between Bangladesh and Myanmar. She stated, “we have to focus on the early implementation of the bilateral arrangement of return that we signed with Myanmar” in November 2017.
The PM said the pilot repatriation project, if implemented successfully, will keep hopes alive. “I hope the international community will come forward to help the Rohingya returnees reintegrate in Rakhine. The presence of humanitarian and development entities in Rakhine will act as an important confidence-building measure,” she said.
Finally with regards to the issue of justice and accountability, the Prime Minister closed with an emphasis that Bangladesh is fully committed to the accountability processes, and it is closely working with the ICJ, IIMM, and ICC.