Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said that military operations by Myanmar cannot solve the problems involving the minority Rohingya Muslims, who have been fleeing to Bangladesh to avoid the crackdown by Myanmarese security forces. “The Rohingya issue is a political problem and it cannot be resolved militarily,” Hasina’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted her as saying when the newly-appointed Danish Ambassador in Dhaka Mikael Hemnid Winther called on her.
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Her comments came as international rights groups including the UN refugee agency UNHCR accused Myanmar of using military force against Rohingyas, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh.
Millions of Rohingyas have been living in Bangladesh for decades after they escaped the alleged atrocities in Myanmar. Dhaka sees the refugees as an economic burden and the presence of the refugees have raised security fears in Bangladesh over Rohingya groups’ suspected links with Islamist extremists.
Bangladesh is reeling from a wave of attacks claimed by terrorist outfits such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda on foreigners, rights activists and secular bloggers.
Hasina told the envoy “I understand the problems of refugees very well”, according to Karim, as she herself was in exile for six years after the assassination of her father and Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a 1975 coup.
Hasina referred to the example of settling Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts insurgency in 1997 through peaceful internal negotiations, Karim said.
UNHCR chief John McKissick last week said the Myanmarese troops were “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river” into Bangladesh.
Bangladesh had sealed its borders with Myanmar with its paramilitary border guards and coastguards intensifying vigil on the frontiers but officials said several thousand Rohingyas took refuge in the bordering villages despite the vigil.