Dhaka wants Moscow mediate Rohingya talk

Bangladesh has proposed Russia to take a “trilateral initiative” with Myanmar like China to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

Foreign minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen on Monday said that he had made the proposal to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at a meeting in Tashkent on the sidelines of the international conference on connectivity.

“He (Lavrov) did not accept the proposal right away but assured that he would talk with others regarding the proposal,” the foreign minister said while talking to reporters after his return from Tajikistan.

He said he put forward the idea as Russia along with China was against any third country interference in the Rohingya crisis.

“They always suggest engaging bilaterally with Myanmar to resolve the crisis. I told him that we have tried a lot bilaterally and even tri-laterally involving China. But in the last four years not a single Rohingya returned to their land. So, I told him to help us.”

“I told him that you can take a trilateral initiative as you have good relations with them (Myanmar) and they will listen, if you say,” the foreign minister said.

He, however, said that for the first time, Russia and China gave their support in adopting the "Human Rights Situation of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar" resolution in the UN recently.

“It’s an achievement. It’s a shift,” he said, adding that the adoption of the resolution by consensus is a “big milestone” towards negotiation of Rohingya repatriation.

Since 25 August 2017, Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and most of them arrived there after a military crackdown by Myanmar, which the UN called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and other rights groups dubbed as “genocide”.

In the last nearly four years, not a single Rohingya went back home yet although Myanmar agreed to take them back.

The foreign minister said the Chinese side is yet to make contact with Myanmar for resuming the tripartite discussion as the new Myanmar military government is busy with its internal issues.

The tripartite discussion between Bangladesh and Myanmar mediated by China was started in 2019 and following a series of meetings at ministerial, secretary and high official levels, Naypyidaw had hinted to start taking back Rohingyas from the second quarter of this year.

But the tripartite discussion has been suspended since the Myanmar military took the state power in a coup in February last.

During the meeting, the Bangladesh foreign minister also thanked his Russian counterpart for the gracious message sent by president Putin during the celebration of the Birth Centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The foreign minister said the Russian foreign minister assured that Russia is always ready to support Bangladesh as Moscow did during the Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971.