Bangladesh won't allow a new wave of Rohingya refugees, says PM Hasina

Bangladesh has been sheltering more than half a million Rohingya people and cannot let in more influx of refugees from Myanmar, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. 

Published : 7 Dec 2016, 11:52 AM
Updated : 7 Dec 2016, 04:11 PM

“We cannot just open our doors to people coming in waves,” she told Parliament on Wednesday.

She made the remark amid calls to open Bangladesh’s border to Rohingya Muslims fleeing death and persecution in Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state.

Myanmar troops have poured into the frontier state with Bangladesh after coordinated attacks on three border posts in October reportedly left nine police officers killed.

Rohingyas and rights groups claim the military and border guards are raping women, torching houses and killing civilians, which the authorities have denied.

Amid escalating violence, hundreds of Rohingyas have been flocking to the borders to cross into Bangladesh every day and the border guards are pushing them back in to Myanmar.

On Wednesday, eight boats carrying Rohingyas on the Naf River in Cox's Bazar were stopped from entering Bangladeshi waters. Another six were pushed back while trying to cross into the border in Bandarban.

The UN refugee agency has called on Bangladesh to open its border. The BNP has also appealed to the government to shelter the Rohingya people on 'humanitarian grounds.'

Bangladesh has been providing shelter to over half a million Rohingyas since the 1980s.

Amid the latest spate of violence, more than 10,000 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh in recent weeks, UN officials say.

In 2012, the Hasina administration decided not to let anymore Rohingyas enter Bangladesh on reports of them being involved in criminal activities at home and abroad, where they go after obtaining documents as Bangladeshi citizens.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has strengthened security along the frontier with Myanmar to stop intrusion of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution by authorities in Myanmar. File photo

During the Prime Minister’s question time on Wednesday, Hasina said the government has already taken initiatives for livelihoods for the Rohingya in the country.

Dhaka has called Naypyidaw to avert any situation which forces the Rohingyas to flee, said the prime minister.

Referring to the foreign ministry summoning the envoy in Dhaka, she said, "He has been told that Myanmar should not create any situation which causes them to flee."

She said the BGB and Myanmar's Border Police have already held a meeting. 

No place for Myanmar terrorists

Hasina said if any terrorist from Myanmar manages to sneak in, they will be detained and sent back.

"The military crackdown started after nine border police were killed and the army was attacked," the prime minister told Parliament.

The Myanmar army has declared the Muslim Rohingya-majority Rakhine state as an "operations zone", where it claims to be battling Islamist insurgents.

The crackdown began after nine border police personnel were killed in attacks by 'insurgents' at three outposts on Oct 9.

Hasina said the law enforcers and border guards have been instructed to detain and send back anyone involved in the attacks on Myanmar forces on being found hiding in Bangladesh.

"We will not let anyone use Bangladeshi territory to launch any attacks on a neighbouring country."

The Human Rights Watch claims over 1,200 Rohigya houses have been destroyed during the crackdown in recent weeks. It also said troops were raping and killing civilians.

Hasina said the terrorists were responsible for the situation. "Thousands are suffering for what (the attacks) they have done."