Santiniketan (West Bengal), May 25 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday sought cooperation from the international community to mount pressure on the Myanmar government to take back close to 1.1 million Rohingya refugees sheltered in her country.
“I want everybody’s cooperation, so that there is pressure on Myanmar government to take them back fast,” Hasina said after inaugurating the Bangladesh Bhawan here in West Bengal’s Birbhum district.
Hasina said her government decided to give shelter to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds as they were persecuted back home.
“Eleven lakh Rohingyas have taken shelter on Bangladeshi soil… We have given them shelter on humanitarian grounds. But we want them to return to their country soon,” she said.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister recalled her sister Rehana’s appeal to her to give shelter to the Rohingyas.
“My sister Rehana told me, when you provide meals to 16 crore people (of Bangladesh), can’t you provide meal to seven lakh more?
“We can. If need be, we will share our food with them,” Hasina said.
The Indian government has refused to give shelter to the fleeing Rohingya refugees, saying it was already facing a “serious problem of infiltration” because of its porous border.
However, on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained mum on the issue at the Visva-Bharati University convocation as also the inauguration of the Bangladesh Bhawan here.
Close to 1.1 million Rohingyas have been residing in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, known as the Cox’s Bazar region, after they fled Rakhine state of Myanmar to escape a military crackdown on their villages on the night of August 24-25, last year.
Myanmar authorities, who signed an agreement with Bangladesh last November to repatriate the refugees, have denied allegations of human rights abuses in the military offensive and justified it as a legitimate response to terror.
Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingyas as citizens, claiming they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which has led to continued discrimination against the community, including restrictions on their freedom of movement.