Visiting US Senators on Sunday dubbed as ‘war crimes’ the atrocities inflicted on Rohingyas by Myanmar security forces as they called on prime minister Sheikh Hasina a day after visiting them in their makeshift refuge in Cox’s Bazar.
‘It is like war crimes,’ prime minister’s press secretary Ihasnul Karim quoted the high-profile delegation’s leader Jeff Merkley as telling the prime minister during the call on at Ganabhaban.
He said the senators told Sheikh Hasina that every country should condemn the crime and ethnic cleansing and were of the opinion that the crisis deserved more international attention as it was required for its resolution and sending the forcibly displaced people back to their homeland.
Karim said the prime minister laid importance on implementation of the Kofi Annan report to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
She said Bangladesh extended Rohingyas the shelter on humanitarian ground remembering the horrifying memories of 1971 when millions of people of Bangladesh were forced to take refuge in India to escape the Pakistani genocide.
The premier also recalled her personal memories of taking refuge along with sister Sheikh Rehana to India following the brutal killing of Banganbandhu in 1975.
‘Out of sense we have taken decision to give shelter to these oppressed people of Myanmar and share our food with them if necessary,’ the prime minister said.
But, Sheikh Hasina said, Bangladesh wanted next-door Myanmar to take back their nationals with ‘full security’ while under an identification system over five lakh of them were provided identity cards by now.
The prime minister also pointed out her government’s success in resolving the over two decade-long crisis in southeastern hills when Bangladesh returned 60,000 Bangladeshi nationals who took refuge to India.
‘Bangladesh brought back the refugees and rehabilitated them with necessary support,’ she said referring to the landmark 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
The US senators call on the premier came a day after the visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar’s Kutupalang.
The senators, Karim said, appreciated the prime minister for her generous response to the challenge of bracing the Rohingyas and said the US was ready to provide all assistance to resolve the crisis.
They said the Rohingyas said they were very much pleased with Bangladesh government for giving them the shelter as they interacted with the ethnic minority people.
Merkley said they gathered firsthand information from the persecuted people in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar while the description of persecution was ‘horrifying’.
The prime minister’s press secretary the US senate team also praised Bangladesh’s economic growth calling it the ‘testimony of hard work of the people of Bangladesh’.
They hailed as well the state of women empowerment in Bangladesh and discussed the issues of climate change and appreciated Bangladesh’s fore-frontal position on the global issue.
US Senator Richard Durbin, Congresswomen Betty McCollum and Jan Schakowsky and Congressman David N Cicilline were among others included in the delegation accompanied by US ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat.
PM’s advisor Gowher Rizvi and principal secretary Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury were present on the occasion.
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