Myanmar crisis: Bangladesh urges OIC members to ensure Rohingyas’ return to homeland

The international community, including Muslim-majority countries, must address the Myanmar issue to enable Rohingyas to return to their homeland, said Bangladesh President Md Abdul Hamid. 

Sajidul Haque from Astana,
Published : 10 Sept 2017, 08:44 AM
Updated : 10 Sept 2017, 11:41 AM

He made the call on Sunday while addressing the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology. 

Leaders and representatives of member states of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation or OIC have gathered at the Kazakhstan capital of Astana for the two-day summit.

Underscoring the need of protection of Rohingya Muslims, Hamid said the minority community in a Buddhist-majority Myanmar is deprived of all rights and face existential threats due to repeated atrocities and displacement.

"Bangladesh is directly affected by this problem as the Rohingyas are flooding over the border into this country. Bangladesh has given shelter to them only on a humanitarian ground," he told the inaugurating session.

Almost half a million Rohingya Muslims have been living in two registered camps and makeshift settlements in bordering Cox's Bazar over the last few decades, fleeing persecution and communal violence.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya people as its citizens, neither has it responded to Bangladesh's frequent calls to take back the refugees.

Attacks on a police camp in October last year sparked an influx of refugees into Bangladesh. Fresh violence broke out on Aug 25 when insurgents attacked 30 police posts and an army base.

As many as 400 people have been reported dead in fighting that has rocked the country's northwest, according to Myanmar officials.

About 300,000 Rohingyas are said to have fled Rakhine and sought shelter over the border in Bangladesh in the weeks since fresh violence erupted.

On the key issue of the OIC summit, held at Astana's Palace of Independence, President Hamid said science, technology and innovation are a key to improving the quality of life and transforming society.

"Nations with varying level and stages of advancement in technology are competing with each other to keep their technological edge and superiority. Disruptive innovations are leaving some behind and taking some ahead creating another divide in the world," he said.

On Bangladesh's "proud heritage" of innovation after the Bengal Renaissance of 19th century, Hamid said: "Our scientific tradition is marked with international collaboration, unique inventions and good technology adaptability of the people.”

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision of a technologically advanced Digital Bangladesh puts us firmly in this tradition.”

Describing Bangladesh’s advances in pharmaceuticals, alternative medicines and agricultural innovation as 'enviable', the president noted that Bangladesh was on its way to launch a satellite.

"Many fellow OIC member states have similar strengths and prospects in different areas and we can complement each other," he said, stressing partnership, platforms and mechanisms for dedicated projects on a bilateral, joint and collective basis.

"We must continue our collective journey in science and technology until the gravity shifts and the Muslim world stands on the vantage ground of technology leadership in place of mere technology use," President Hamid said.