Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged Myanmar to take back the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Rakhine state to her country.
Speaking as she visited Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district, Hasina urged Myanmar to view the situation with humanity, saying innocent people were suffering.
Hasina accused the Myanmar military of committing atrocities and said its actions were in “violation of human rights”, and added that Rohingya refugees are Myanmar’s nationals and it must take its citizens back.
“Bangladesh wants to maintain peace and good relations with its neighbouring countries, but it cannot accept ‘unjust acts’ the Myanmar government is committing,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by the Daily Star newspaper.
“Still, the fire is burning there… people can’t find their family members… the bodies of infants and women are floating on the Naf River… these go completely against humanity and are violations of human rights,” Hasina said.
Some 370,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border since violence began in August, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies it is targeting civilians.
But many of those who have fled say troops responded to attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25 with a brutal campaign of violence and burning of village aimed at driving them out.
“My personal message is very clear, that they should consider this situation with the eyes of humanity,” the Prime Minister told the BBC.
“Because these people, innocent people, the children, women, they are suffering. So these people, they belong to Myanmar. Hundreds of years they are staying there. How they can deny that they are not their citizens?”
Hasina said her country would offer Rohingyas shelter until Myanmar took them back. She also condemned the militants for their role in the violence, but said Myanmar’s government should have dealt with the situation more patiently.
She said Bangladesh protests this injustice and inhumane attitude towards Rohingyas in Rakhine state, and renewed her call to the international community to mount pressure on the Myanmar government to take back their nationals.
“Myanmar has to take back their nationals, give them a safe place to live in their homeland. The international community should put pressure on Myanmar… this has to be stopped,” she added.
Bangladesh’s Parliament passed a resolution on Monday night urging the UN and other countries to mount diplomatic pressure on Myanmar. The government has also decided to collect biometric data from the refugees for a database.
There have been protests in several Muslim-majority nations.
UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said on Monday that the security operation in Rakhine appeared to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.