Sheikh Hasina’s address to the UN and the Rohingya issue


Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh addressed the UN General assembly on 29 September at about 3am Bangladesh time, she was supposed to be one of the most important speakers who had to deal with one of the most crucial issues of the globe the Rohingya. She spoke in Bangla just like her great father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation told the world first that seven and half crore Bangalees are with an independent country called Bangladesh and he is the person who represented the country for the first time as the head of the government.

The world duly appreciated his speech with thunderous applause. Now the independence is nearly 48 years old. Now the term is for a brilliant lady Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Father of the Nation and the head of the government who has been ruling the country for nearly eleven and half years without interruption earning fame and glory. Sheikh Hasina is now known to the UN as a great leader of the globe. She has addressed the world on vital global issues like climate change, food security, cross-border terrorism, health and sanitation. These are the fundamental issues that Sheikh Hasina has raised not only in her own country but also throughout the globe. She is the type of leader who does not only feel for her fellow countrymen but also worries for the entire world. She alerts the world about its responsibility toward the entire population of the globe. She reminds the world community about the Rohingya crisis. 

The Bangladesh Prime Minister categorically tells them that the Rohingya crisis is not a problem of Bangladesh alone, rather it is a problem of the globe. It will create security threats for the globe. It is Myanmar which drove out the Rohingyas from their motherland. Some 1.1million Rohingyas were compelled to take shelter in the neighbouring Banglades in the face of atrocities, arson, looting and rape. Bangladesh has been bearing the burden of such a huge number of Rohingyas for nearly over two years. The move to return the Rohingyas to their own country was put into action two times, but the Rohingyas refused to go back to their country as Myanmar has not created congenial atmosphere for their return yet. 

The Myanmar government is not at all sincere to take back their citizens. In fact this serious crisis cannot be resolved by Bangladesh alone. The government of Bangladesh has shown utmost restraint about the issue. Sheikh Hasina did everything to settle the issue bilaterally with Myanmar and also through the mediation of UN and also through the mediation by countries like China, India who have a common interest. Since Sheikh Hasina wants to involve different countries of the globe she has raised the Rohingya issue to the UN General Assembly. The global community must come forward to resolve the issue.

Her latest proposals have been prepared taking into account all pros and cons of the Rohingya issue. Bangladesh has been presently telling that since the issue has been created by Myanmar and since it is an internal issue, it has to be solved by Myanmar. Bangladesh has proved that it is always ready to help Myanmar to solve the problem amicably and bilaterally. Sheikh Hasina offered some pragmatic proposals for resolution to the problem. As a follow up to that Myanmar government has admitted to take back their citizens and accordingly dates were fixed. But Rohingya repatriation did not take place as Rohingyas are not sure of their security and the Myanmar government failed to create any conducive environment for their safe return.  The UN also takes initiative to solve the problem. But their effort has failed to bring any positive headway till today.

Under the above mentioned circumstances, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has placed four proposals at the recently held 74th UNGA seeking a peaceful and sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis as it badly affecting Bangladesh.. These are:

1. Myanmar must express clear political will manifested by concrete actions for sustainable return and reintegration of Rohingyas to Myanmay;

2. It must build trust among Rohingyas by discarding discriminatory laws and practices and allowing “go-and-see” visits to Northern Rakhine by Rohingya representatives;

3. Myanmar must guarantee the security and safety of Rohingyas by deploying civilian monitors from the international community in Rakhine state;

4. The international community must ensure that the root causes of the Rohingya problem are addressed and atrocious crimes committed against Rohingyas are accounted for.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also told the UNGA that the Rohingya crisis is a political one deeply rooted in Myanmar and thus its solution has to be found inside Myanmar. She categorically said the Rohingyas must be able to return to their homes where they lived for decades. Hasina said that it was regrettable that yet another year passed by without any solution to the Rohingya crisis.

The Rohingya issue is not a problem of Bangladesh alone. It is now a problem of those who feel for humanity and of the leadership of the globe. The powerful countries that regulate the politics of the globe must rise above petty national interest of their own. If the UN is not capable enough the deal with this grave humanitarian crisis, the organisation may lose confidence of the globe. Bangladesh has been serving the cause of peace of the people of the globe where peace has been put jeopardize. But sorry to say that when Bangladesh has been facing the Rohingya crisis created by Myanmar for Bangladesh, the global leaders have not been responding duly.

Sheikh Hasina has rightly warned that if this crisis is not resolved right now and if allowed to continue for indefinite period, the peace in the zone may be seriously disturbed and global peace may be hindered. Since Bangladesh stand for global peace it firmly deserve the UNGA would take the issue seriously and find out a solution acceptable to the Rohingyas.


Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist