SAUDI Arabia’s suggestion for Bangladesh, as has been reported quoting Bangladesh’s foreign minister as saying, to issue passports to 54,000 Rohingyas who have stayed in the kingdom for about four decades appears to raise international concern. This so does as the Saudi authorities earlier handed Bangladesh several lists that named about 50,000 Rohingyas with a request for taking them back to Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia took up the issue of Rohingyas being sent back to Bangladesh reportedly in 2007–2010 and sent a number of letters to Bangladesh to settle the issue. The Saudi authorities last took up the issue with Bangladesh at a meeting in Riyadh in February 2020. In view of all this having happened in the background, the Saudi suggestion at hand, in a revision of its historic stance of standing by the persecuted Muslim Rohingyas, who have fled violence in Myanmar for ages, for years at international level, also appears to be unjust. Bangladesh authorities to the best of their ability have stood by the Rohingyas, when they started fleeing violence in Rakhine in Myanmar to Bangladesh beginning in the late 1970s and even after August 2017 when more than 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to join 400,000 more having already lived here, by giving them shelter.
The Saudi authorities are reported to have received more than 50,000 Rohingyas of Myanmar three to four decades ago on humanitarian grounds and most of them are reported to have gone to Saudi Arabia from various places, including a few from Bangladesh, as Bangladesh’s foreign minister is reported to have said. Now the Saudi authorities asking Bangladesh to grant passports to all the Rohingyas who have stayed in Saudi Arabia for such a long time suggests that the Saudi authorities are passing an international problem onto Bangladesh while they do not ask or request leaders of the international community to ask Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas, who are citizens of Myanmar. The Saudi authorities are reported to have earlier asked Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas, but as Myanmar declined, they have now asked Bangladesh to issue passports to the Rohingyas in Saudi Arabia apparently in efforts, keeping to an earlier stand of the kingdom, that they could be sent back to Bangladesh. Bangladesh diplomats, however, believe that the Rohingyas in Saudi Arabia may have entered the kingdom using forged Bangladeshi passports amidst the atrocities that Myanmar’s military junta committed against them for decades. The exodus of the Rohingyas from Myanmar into Bangladesh and some other countries is an international political problem, which needs to be resolved politically at international level.
All this may also speak of a diplomatic failure of Bangladesh to impress on the Saudi authorities with adequately intended briefing that Bangladesh is also a party to the issue on humanitarian grounds the way Saudi Arabia became a party to the issue three to four decades ago. And the problem should be resolved politically at international forums by mounting pressure on Myanmar to create grounds for a graceful, sustainable and voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas, with their citizens’ rights having afforded, to Myanmar, not just from Bangladesh but also from other places that they live in.
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