Riyadh asks Dhaka to take back 50,000 Rohingyas

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 01:12, Feb 11,2020


Riyadh has requested Dhaka to take back over 50,000 Rohingya people of Myanmar from Saudi Arabia, creating an irritant in the bilateral ties with Bangladesh.

The Saudi Arabia authorities made the request claiming that these Myanmar nationals migrated to that country using Bangladeshi passports issued over the years, according to Saudi diplomatic sources.

The Saudi authorities also made an identical request to Malaysia to take back several thousand Rohingya people on the grounds that they too migrated to Saudi Arabia using Malaysian passports.

The Arab country had handed over several lists containing the names of 50,000 Rohingya people with the request for starting the repatriation much before the latest influx of the people of the community from Myanmar to Bangladesh took place in August, 2017.

The matter was last raised by the Saudis in a meeting with Bangladesh diplomats in Riyadh early this month, according to officials.

‘Bangladesh has sought more specific information about the Rohingya people mentioned in the lists to verify their nationalities,’ a Bangladesh official said when asked about Dhaka’s response on the matter.

The request for taking Myanmar nationals to Bangladesh ‘has become an irritant’ in the relations with Saudi Arabia, although the ties with the Arab country ‘are otherwise good,’ he said.

The Saudi authorities have also requested the Myanmar government to repatriate Rohingya people to that country, but the Myanmar side has declined to take them back, officials said.

About the position of Bangladesh on the matter, its ambassador to Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi told New Age, ‘This needs to be carefully verified.’

He said that Rohingya people might have entered Saudi Arabia using fake Bangladeshi passports.

More than 7.40 lakh Rohingyas—mostly women, children and aged people—have entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning since August 25, 2017.

The ongoing Rohingya influx has raised the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees from that country in Bangladesh to about 1.2 million, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh authorities.

The International Court of Justice has recently declared its jurisdiction on Rohingya issues with asking the Myanmar government to take preventive measures to stop repetition of the genocide against the Rohingya people. 

The ICJ prosecution has launched an investigation to identify individual responsibilities in crimes committed against members of the persecuted community.

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