Bangladesh PM Opts to Avoid War With Neighbors

By Muktadir Rashid   15 September 2022

DHAKA — Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that her government does not want war with its neighbors amid repeated violations of the international border and airspace by Myanmar’s junta in recent weeks.

“People became refugees after the Russia-Ukraine war broke out. Many became refugees after the Arab Spring. Many Palestinians cannot get access to study and meals. See the situation in Afghanistan. That’s why our call is, we do not want war, we want peace,” she told the media at her Gonobhaban residence in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Myanmar’s envoy in Dhaka three times and expressed deep concern over mortar shells falling on its territory, indiscriminate aerial firing and airspace violations.

Hasina was asked what assurances she received from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her September 5-8 visit to India.

She said the Indian government stressed that the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis had to be addressed.

“It’s true we have sheltered them on humanitarian grounds but, the way it is going, it is becoming a burden. They are humans and we cannot throw them out,” Hasina told the press conference.

Rohingyas refugees deplete natural resources and forests and organize drug and weapons trafficking, she said. “We are trying to maintain law and order as much as possible.”

Abduction, killing, rape, shootings, drug dealing and other crimes are rife at the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar district where over 1 million refugees are sheltered.

Cox’s Bazar police reported that 2,363 cases were filed against 4,979 Rohingyas between August 2017 and July 2022.

Of the cases, 1,601 were filed against 2,207 people for drug possession while 95 murder cases were filed against 431 suspects, 84 rape or attempted rape allegations against 124 people and there were 39 cases filed against 191 people on charges of abduction.

The police said by August they had arrested 1,846 people for 1,470 cases involving the seizure of at least 14 million yaba or methamphetamine tablets.

In five years, at least 386 people were arrested in 190 arms-related cases while 239 firearms, 996 bullets and 12 magazines were seized.

“India always thinks that the Rohingya crisis should be resolved … We sought their assistance and got a positive response. But the problem is with the Myanmar government. It does not care about any pressure. And it is also having its internal fighting. That’s a big problem.”