UK concerned over Rohingya return

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Jul 09,2019


British high commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson addresses a meeting with Diplomatic Correspondents Association Bangladesh at BIISS auditorium in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo

British high commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Monday in a press meet reaffirmed their three-point plans over a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis but looked forward to know more about the discussions between Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her counterparts in China during her recent visit.

He said a long-term answer to the crisis lied in ‘safe, dignified and voluntary’ return of the Rohingya to their homeland in Myanmar.

We are working hard in the [United Nations] security council and elsewhere to create a political situation so that the return can take place, he said at a formal talk hosted by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association at the BIISS auditorium in the afternoon with the president of the association Raheed Ezaz on the chair.

He highlighted the historic relationship of UK and Bangladesh and replied to various question related to human rights, extrajudicial killings, press freedom and extradition of BNP’s acting chairman chief Tarique Rahman to Bangladesh ending his exile in the UK.

On the security issue at the Rohingya camps, Robert Dickson said, ‘It is obvious when you have a displaced population, they are potentially vulnerable to radicalizations, he said by way of an example of the Palestine in the Middle East,’ he added.

He said the first priority would be the implementation of much-talked about Rakhine plan proposed by the Kofi Anan commission and that would be the basis of addressing the problems Rohingya were facing.

Secondly, it would be great if the Rohingya were granted their citizenship as Myanmar, he said.

He, at one point, said it would be also good if the Chinese friends joined the combined international efforts in solving the crises.

Robert Dickson also said it would be great to hear in more details what transpired during the discussion between Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Chinese counterparts during her visit in the last couple of days.

A united approach in the Security Council of United Nations would be very helpful, he said. 

Speaking on the state of freedom in Bangladesh, he said, ‘Media freedom is really important for us,’ and added, ‘We are not claiming that the UK’s performance is perfect.’

Bangladesh ranked 150 in the index of Reporters Without Border while the UK raked 33 in the latest index. 

‘A free media is vital to creating an active, informed, creative and engaged population. It is an enabling factor for a range of objectives, including good governance, democracy, gender and other equalities, and poverty reduction,’ said the diplomat.

Asked about the Bangladesh Nationalist Party acting chairman Tarique Rahman’s repatriation, the British High Commissioner said they would not comment on any individual’s case, however, anyone who was in the UK and sought protection of the court, the court would decide whether to ‘remove’ him from the country or not.

He said the global human rights report published last month already expressed concerns over overall rights situation in Bangladesh including the controversial issue of extrajudicial killing by the law enforcement agencies.

He said the UK was committed to ensuring Bangladesh’s duty-free and quota-free market access once the UK leaves the EU.

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