Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Momen on Thursday renewed Dhaka’s call urging global community to make Myanmar accountable for carrying out atrocities on minority Rohingyas forcing their mass exodus to take refuge in Bangladesh. “The international community must take strong resolve to ensure that Myanmar is held accountable for this gross violation of human rights,” he said opening a seminar marking “70th Anniversary of Geneva Conventions” in the capital. Otherwise, he feared, the spirit and value of the Geneva Conventions would “continue to be undermined”, reports BSS.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) organised the daylong seminar at BIISS auditorium. The minister said Myanmar now laid mines on its borders with Bangladesh to prevent Rohingyas return after their troops drove them out spearheading a cleansing campaign in a form which the UN described as the “worst form of human rights violations”.
Even today, he said, the Rohingyas continue to flee their home to escape “forced starvation” under a calculated Myanmar policy. The foreign minister said Bangladesh, however, remained deeply committed to international humanitarian law as it had suffered the worst forms of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its 1971 Liberation War.
“Our commitment is reflected in our hosting of the Rohingyas and ensuring their basic services in Bangladesh,” he said adding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the bold decision for offering them the refuge being led by her own pledge to humanitarian principles. “Prime Minister’s proposal to establish safe zone in Rakhine (Rohingyas homeland) is also premised upon her respect for humanitarian principles of safety, security and dignity,” Momen added.
He Bangladesh continued to pursue the issue of making Myanmar accountable over rights as “we are committed against all kinds of genocide across the world and we do believe those who are responsible for any genocide must be made accountable”. As approached by newsmen on the seminar sideliner, Momen, however, was critical of the United Nations handling of the crisis as the situation was erupting but preferred to call it a “procedural error”
“The UN hid some information . . . of course they (the UN) can’t avoid their liability for that,” he said as asked for comments for a UN report acknowledging its mistakes. He said the Rohingya crisis was not created in one day, rather the ethnic hatred prevailed in Myanmar since long in Myanmar “but the UN was not aware about it (the ethnic suppression inside Myanmar)”.
Momen said Bangladesh is committed to uphold humanitarian laws, which is reflected through participation of its troops in the UN peacekeeping missions.
He said the foreign ministry established a national committee on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to promote humanitarian law in general and the Geneva conventions in particular in Bangladesh.
“As the world marks 70 years since the Geneva Conventions were adopted, there is a need to strengthen efforts to forge stronger commitment to humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva conventions by the nations,” he said. ICRC Bangladesh Head of Delegation Ikhtiyar Aslanov, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Firoz Salauddin, DCAB President Raheed Ejaz and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke on the occasion.
Currently, Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and most of them arrived here since August 25, 2017 after a military crackdown by Myanmar termed as “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the UN. The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war and protect refugees.