Bangladesh reacts to comments by Myanmar’s Religious Affairs minister who claim refugees were “brainwashed". For Bangladesh Foreign Ministry, in Myanmar there is an "anti-Bangladesh, anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim policy, which many considered as apartheid."
Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Bangladesh yesterday summoned the ambassador of Myanmar, U Lwin Oo, to protest against the “irresponsible remarks" made by Myanmar’s Religious Affairs Minister Thura Aung Ko about Rohingya Muslims.
A diplomatic note was given to the ambassador asking his government to take disciplinary action against Thura.
On Tuesday, the minister referred to the Rohingya as Bengalis and said that Bangladesh was "not letting them return”, claiming that they had been "brainwashed" in refugee camps so that they could go "marching” into Myanmar, a Buddhist majority nation.
In the note to the ambassador, Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry says that the statement of the Myanmar minister could have a negative impact on Rohingya repatriation and bilateral relations.
It went on to say that "anti-Bangladesh, anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim policy, which many considered as apartheid," was in place in Myanmar, noting that “It is a blatant lie that Bangladesh is obstructing the repatriation process of Rohingya. Due to Myanmar's unabated anti-Rohingya policy, no member of the community agreed to go back on November 15."
For more than a year, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh have been engaged in negotiations over the repatriation of refugees to Rakhine State, often blaming each other for delays in the process.
Repatriation was scheduled to start in mid-November with the first 2,260 refugees, but the Rohingya refused, at least until Myanmar authorities guaranteed them "security and citizenship rights".
Myanmar has expressed its willingness to accept returning refugees, but Bangladesh postponed the process until the end of next December.