No relevance of Rohingya crisis for SAARC: FM

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:05, Oct 19,2017 | Updated: 00:03, Oct 19,2017

AH Mahmood Ali

Foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali addresses a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in the city on Wednesday over Rohingya issue. — Sony Ramany

The protracted Rohingya crisis with continuing exodus of forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens to Bangladesh have no relevance for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the foreign minister, AH Mahmood Ali, said on Wednesday.
‘What is the relevance of SAARC here [on Rohingya issues] when you are aware of the present condition of the SAARC,’ he said replying to a query from New Age at a press conference at the foreign ministry.
He was asked about the position of the South Asian regional body when other international and regional bodies including the European Union, the ASEAN, the OIC and the UN agencies were playing role for resolving the crisis.
Almost all major countries and international organisations, including UN Security Council members China and Russia, were supporting Bangladesh in resolving the Rohingya crisis, he claimed.
Replying to a question on tacit support of China and Russia to Myanmar on Rohingya issues,
Mahmood said that Russia was suggesting implementation of the final report of the Kofi Annan Commission and China was for addressing the root causes of the crisis.
The government would send a special envoy to China and Russia at a time convenient for all quarters, said the minister.
The foreign minister also defended Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Rohingya issues. ‘She is raising voice,’ he said with praises that she ‘is a very sensible person who led a life full of struggles for upholding people’s rights’.
A situation created by the military dictatorship could not be overcome overnight, he said.
Turning down Myanmar’s claims that Rohingyas fleeing from Rakhine State were ‘Bengalis’, Mahmood said that Rohingyas ‘are not Bengalis’ although they had been living for centuries in Rakhine, which has affinity with a bordering area in Bangladesh.
Many English words were incorporated in Bangla and taking words from another language ‘does not mean we have become part of that nationality,’ he explained.
Diplomats said that there was hardly any scope to discuss and reach a consensus on Rohingya issues under the present provisions of the SAARC, an eight-member heterogeneous regional group comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
According to UN estimation on October 17, 5,82,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh in the new influx starting from August 25 what the United Nations called the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, systematic ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Officials estimated that the new influx already took to 10 lakh the number of Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh, entering the country in phases since 1978. 

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