ASEAN criticised for inaction in Rohingya crisis

2G services enough for Rohingyas: FM

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:28, May 22,2020


International rights experts criticised the ASEAN for its failure to take action for resolving the crisis created by the forced displacement of the minority Rohingya people in Myanmar.

‘ASEAN has been notably disappointing on taking action on the Rohingya crisis,’ Laetitia Van Den Assum, a member of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, said in a web-based discussion on Wednesday.

New York-based Global Justice Centre organised the video conference with participation of former UN special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee.

ASEAN leaders requires to engage with Myanmar as many issues relating to Rohingya people directly affect the region, Laetitia said referring to attempts by sections of Rohingya people to flee to other countries by boat.

ASEAN should take a stand in the crisis and the regional leaders should also work for ensuring justice for Rohingya people, he added.

New York-based Global Justice Centre organised the video conference also saw Women Peace founder Wai Wai Nu, who is a member of the Rohingya community, stressed the need for disposing of the ‘racist laws’ maintained by the Myanmar authorities for denying existence of Rohingya and other minority groups.

‘How can Rohingya [people] return to a country that denies their existence and upholds racist laws? As long as the [Myanmar] government continues these policies, we are not free,’ she said.

Global Justice Centre president Akila Radhakrishnan moderated the discussion on this week’s deadline for Myanmar to report on its compliance with the order of International Court of Justice to prevent genocide against Rohingya people.

Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in tourism district Cox’s Bazar for years.

Association of South-East Asian Nations is a regional group in which Myanmar, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are members. 

Meanwhile, Bangladesh government stressed that 2G mobile phone services should be enough for Rohingya people for day-to-day communications inside camps in Cox’s Bazar. 

‘They have 2G services which is enough for day-to-day communications,’ foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said in a video conference with 10 European ambassadors to Bangladesh on Wednesday.

Ambassadors of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the European Union delegation in Dhaka joined the discussion which was also attended by foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen.

Momen explained that the restrictions on 4G mobile networks inside camps were imposed for security reasons, to stop drug trafficking, to stop trafficking of women and children, to curb people who provoke people to create lawlessness and to stop viewing of pornography.

The functionaries would be able to access the internet and 4G services from their offices and accommodations, said the foreign secretary.

Sections of local and international rights groups were urging for restoration of 4G facilities inside the camps as Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in tourism district Cox’s Bazar for years.

On the issue of the spread of COVID-19 in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, Momen assured the ambassadors that the government is taking all necessary steps to ensure that the pandemic is contained, and the spread of COVID-19 in the Rohingya camps there is minimal.

Momen called on the Ambassadors to assist in providing better life and living for the persecuted Rohingya people in their own countries or relocate and settle them in third countries.

The ambassadors also raised the issue of freedom of press in Bangladesh. The foreign minister claimed, in reply, that there is complete freedom of speech and media. However, he said, freedom without responsibility may result in social chaos and indiscipline.

The ambassadors informed that one-third of the EU’s support amounting 334 million Euros to Bangladesh for facing impacts of COVID-19 would be channelled through the government.

The minister, in reply, emphasised transparency and accountability of the aid activities carried out by the development partners.  

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