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October 2023

Episode: KPN 31-10-2023

Kaladan Radio October 31, 2023 1156 3


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Rohingyas may turn into severe threat to stability of region – FM

Without mentioning any name, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Saturday said that it was ‘shameful’ that certain quarters utilised democracy and human rights as their preferred tool to keep pressure on countries, thus pursuing their narrow national interest.

“By selectively picking countries to achieve their own narrow national interest, a few powerful countries have been using human rights, democracy, good governance, free and fair elections, enforced disappearance as their tool of exploitation,” he said adding that this has contributed to the eroding of trust and solidarity among nations, which is the worst of all crises.

“It was ‘shameful’ that certain quarters utilised democracy and human rights as their preferred tool to keep pressure on countries, thus pursuing their narrow national interest. By selectively picking countries to achieve their own narrow national interest, a few powerful countries have been using human rights, democracy, good governance, free and fair elections, enforced disappearance as their tool of exploitation.

Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen

Speaking as chief guest at a seminar, Momen said that interestingly it was unique for Bangladesh that a few disgruntled Bangladeshis living abroad and at times, paid by interested groups were assisting them to achieve these narrow goals by false and fabricated propaganda at home and abroad.

“Selectivity and politicisation are key barriers to promote human rights and democracy. This is a creeping challenge faced by so called third world countries,” the foreign minister observed.

Since Bangladesh believes in freedom of media and more importantly has freedom of media and speech and has confidence in its people, Bangladesh is reluctant to take any action on these propaganda machines, he said.

Diplomats World, a diplomatic magazine, hosted the seminar on ‘Navigating Challenges: Bangladesh’s Response to the Current Global Situation’ at the Foreign Service Academy.

Former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh Park Young-sik and editor of the Diplomats Shahed Akhtar, among others, spoke at the seminar.

Momen said that prime minister Sheikh Hasina had set numerous examples by which Bangladesh demonstrated her commitment to promote democracy and human rights sustainably.

Successive governments led by PM Hasina, among others, have ended the culture of impunity, established the rule of law, strengthened the democratic Institutions, showed zero tolerance to terrorism and violent extremism, and ensured economic and social wellbeing of the people, he said.

‘Her goal is the well-being of her people, to provide them food, accommodation, healthcare and education,’ Momen said.

The foreign minister said that the Election Commission continues to be equipped with the wherewithal to carry out its functions in full independence, credibility and efficiency.

As part of the process, to eliminate possibility of fake votes, photo-based voter ID cards were issued, and transparent ballot boxes have also been made the norm to establish confidence among the electorate as well as the polling officials and agents, he said.

With Sheikh Hasina in the office, Momen said, Bangladesh conducted numerous elections at the local and national government levels and these elections were free, fair and impartial.

‘In those elections, including in my own city Sylhet, a great portion of candidates from opposition political parties won and are running for office,’ Momen said.

The foreign minister highlighted that Bangladesh, while carefully crafting its foreign policy manoeuvres in order to successfully navigate the shifting geopolitical terrain, would stick to its foreign policy principles.

‘In order to achieve our foreign policy priorities, it is important that we strengthen our capacity as we grow in order to overcome the looming global economic concerns, maintain economic growth, and achieve the ongoing developmental goals as well as its long-cherished dream of becoming a developed nation and a Smart Bangladesh by the year 2041,’ he said.

The foreign minister said that repatriation of the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals was a pressing issue for Bangladesh and for the region.

‘As a responsible member of the world community, we did our part by providing temporary shelter to the Rohingyas, sharing our food, and ensuring their basic humanitarian needs as a first responder — even before the international community stepped in,’ he said.

“Repatriation of the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals was a pressing issue for Bangladesh and for the region. As a responsible member of the world community, we did our part by providing temporary shelter to the Rohingyas, sharing our food, and ensuring their basic humanitarian needs as a first responder — even before the international community stepped in. It was a colossal task on the part of a small country like Bangladesh with a large and high density of population and resource constraints. The cost is increasing while international assistance is decreasing. After six long years of hosting Rohingyas, it is unjust that only Bangladesh will continue to carry this burden. We fear, therefore, if these forcibly displaced people are not repatriated to their own country, if they are not given hope and a future, they could turn into a severe threat to peace and stability of the region and beyond. They could be a global security risk.”

Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen

It was a colossal task on the part of a small country like Bangladesh with a large and high density of population and resource constraints, Momen observed.

Each year, under the generous patronage of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh spends US$ 1.7 billion on food, shelter, health, education and skills development of the Rohingyas, he mentioned.

‘The cost is increasing while international assistance is decreasing. After six long years of hosting Rohingyas, it is unjust that only Bangladesh will continue to carry this burden,’ said the foreign minister.

It is only natural that more than a million people in a small stretch of land with past memory of trauma from genocide and ethnic cleansing will be prone to radicalism and extremist ideas, he observed.

‘We fear, therefore, if these forcibly displaced people are not repatriated to their own country, if they are not given hope and a future, they could turn into a severe threat to peace and stability of the region and beyond. They could be a global security risk,’ Momen said.

The foreign minister said that they were continuing to work with partners and pursue a safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of these hapless people. ‘We are pursuing a sustainable solution to this crisis from all fronts-multilateral, regional, trilateral and bilateral for the greater interest of regional stability, peace and development,’ he said.

Momen said that Bangladesh alone could not solve the crisis and the international community must not shy away from their responsibility to resolve the crisis and relieve Bangladesh from the burden that Myanmar imposed upon Bangladesh.

‘The onus is on the international and regional organisations, and other stakeholders to ensure that our collective attention remains on the Rohingya, who deserve equitable global solidarity and support of the international community in meeting their humanitarian and accountability challenges,’ said the foreign minister.

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