The UK-based ‘Channel 4 News’ in September 2017 first débuted Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the ‘Mother of Humanity’ after her valiant resolution to open Bangladesh-Myanmar borders for the fleeing persecuted Rohingya people from Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Following this, the daughter of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina, has come to be known as the ‘Mother of Humanity’.
Sheik Hasina, leader of the highly densely populated developing country, demonstrated a unique example of an altruistic gesture.
The persecution by the Myanmar security forces and local vigilantes on the Rohingya people in the Rakhine State has resulted fleeing of over a million Rohingya people to Bangladesh. An estimated 738,805 Rohingya people arrived in Bangladesh within a few days since 25 August 2017 when the Myanmar military coordinated an operation, which the world came to term as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Among the latest Rohingya arrivals, 58 per cent are children, 34338 women are pregnant, 39841 are orphans.
Moreover, over 87,000 Rohingya people entered into Bangladesh after October 2016 and over 300,000 entered into Bangladesh between 2005 and 2015 following the grave human rights violations in the Rakhine State by the Myanmar security forces and the local vigilantes. As many as 1,118,576 registered Rohingya people are now sheltered in Bangladesh.
The latest exodus of Rohingya people following the events of 25 August 2017 in the Rakhine State has been described as the fastest displacementcrisis in the history of mankind.The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in coordination with international agencies, has been extending all sorts of humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, healthcare, water and sanitation, etc. to the persecuted Rohingya people solely on humanitarian ground. As long as the forcibly displaced Rohingya people remain in Bangladesh, awaiting return to their homelands in the Rakhine State, Bangladesh would continue to provide them shelter and other humanitarian assistances.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI – 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Myanmar leader: “We have to take care of our citizens. We have to take care of everybody who is in our country, whether or not they are our citizens.” September 07, 2017
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated that “if my government can arrange food for over one hundred sixty million people of Bangladesh, we would also be able to feed one million people more”.
The government of Bangladesh has allocated 6,200 acres of land for construction of shelter-houses, sanitation and other related services; 30 camps have been set up while 212,607 houses have been built in the camps for the forcibly displaced Rohingya people. As many as 845,914 Rohingya people now receive food and other relief support while 142,823 have so far received nutritional support; 177,725 Rohingya children receive informal education through 3,271 education centres. As many as 219 medical camps and other family welfare centres have been set up to provide reproductive health services to the Rohingya people. 137,464 have so far received reproductive health services while 1,668,860 Myanmar nationals have received different services. Over 8,063 tube-wells, 57,891 toilets and 15,982 shower rooms have been set up to provide drinking water and sanitation services to the Rohingya people.
MALALA YOUSAFZAI – 2014 Nobel Peace Prize: “Over the last several years, I have repeatedly condemned this tragic and shameful treatment. I am still waiting for my fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to do the same.” September 03, 2017.
The government of Bangladesh has spent Tk. 957,000,000 approximately US$ 11.50 million for the humanitarian assistance to the forcibly displaced Rohingya people. The NGO Affairs Bureau of Bangladesh government has allocated over Tk. 7.87 billion (approximately US$ 95 million) to provide safe drinking water and sanitation services to the Rohingya people through 122 local and international NGOs. Different agencies of Bangladesh government have been implementing different projects including roads, drains, cyclone-shelter-cum-schools, multipurpose centres, and food distribution centres in Cox’s Bazar with the financial support of the World Bank (US$ 480 million) and Asian Development Bank (US$ 240 million) for the welfare of the forcibly displaced Rohingya people.
The persecution of Rohingya people has generated multi-dimensional and multi-layered crisis for Bangladesh ranging from economic, security, environmental, social, and political. The crisis has also severely impacted on Cox Bazar’s ecosystem, wildlife habitat, labour market, access to public services, law and order situation, etc. Despite various challenges to the economy, ecology and overall societal rubrics of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s decision to shelter the persecuted Rohingya people emanates from humanity alone.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes that humanitarian responses would help the forcibly displaced Rohingya people only temporarily. A durable solution of the problem is a must for the sake of humanity. Bangladesh government has engaged diplomatically with Myanmar to make sure that the Rohingya people are enabled to exercise their right to return to their own homeland.
Bangladesh is determined to follow human rights based return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya people to their homelands in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
No one will be forced to return. Bangladesh is committed to comply with international standards and UNHCR has been involved to complement its efforts. Ensuring sustainable return, non-criminalization, non- discrimination, resettlement and reintegration, etc. would be the hallmarks for the return of the forcibly displaced Rohingya people from Bangladesh to their homeland in the Rakhine State.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presented a 5-point proposal at the 72ndSession of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017 for a permanent solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis:
- First: Myanmar must unconditionally stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State immediately and forever;
- Second: Secretary General of the United Nations should immediately send a Fact-Finding Mission to Myanmar;
- Third: All civilians irrespective of religion and ethnicity must be protected in Myanmar. For that “safe zones” could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision;
- Fourth: Ensure sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar; and
- Fifth: The recommendations of Kofi Annan Commission Report must be implemented unconditionally as soon as possible.
Open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi from five Nobel Peace laureates, “How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice in defense of those who have no voice?” SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
At the ‘High-level Event on the Global Compact on Refugees: A Model for Greater Solidarity and Cooperation’ organized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at the UN Headquarters in New York on 24 September 2018, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed a 3-point proposal to resolve the Rohingya crisis:
- First: Myanmar must abolish discriminatory laws, policies and practices against Rohingyas and address the root causes of forced displacement in a genuine and timely manner;
- Second:Myanmar must create a conducive environment by building trust and guaranteeing protection, rights and pathway to citizenship for all Rohingyas. If needed, create a “safe zone” inside Myanmar to protect all civilians; and
- Third:prevent atrocity crimes against Rohingyas in Myanmar by bringing accountability and justice, particularly in light of the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission of the UN Human Rights Council.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina committed to the principle of voluntary repatriation and would return the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to the Rakhine State only when they are willing. In the meantime, Bangladesh government would urge the Myanmar side to demonstrate genuine efforts towards meeting the demands of the Rohingya people, as committed by them in the UN and create conducive environment in Myanmar in its efforts to convince them to return to their homes.
Bangladesh government believes that durable solution of the Rohingya crisis lies in sustainable return of the displaced people to the original places of their residence with safety, dignity and assurance of livelihoods, and more importantly in restoring civil, political and economic rights of these people as underscored by the Kofi Annan Commission. Bangladesh would continue to remain engaged with the Rohingyas through UNHCR and other UN agencies to encourage them to return at their own choice. The international community needs to remain seized with the matter and intensify its engagements with Myanmar towards creating conducive environment in the Rakhine State and help secure a durable and just solution to this protracted Rohingya crisis.
Likewise the world seen even in some developed parts of the world the policy of closed borders and push back of refugees, had Bangladesh followed the same script that would have resulted in the death of thousands of persecuted Rohingya people. But Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina saved the lives of thousands of Rohingya people by opening borders and providing them shelter and other humanitarian assistances, out of only her humanitarian compassion.