Momen urges ASEAN members to ‘intervene’ in Rohingya repatriation

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today urged the ASEAN member states to ‘intervene’ in the Rohingya crisis to materialize repatriation of the persecuted Myanmar nationals to their land of origin.

“I would like to urge the ASEAN member states to intervene in the matter and help the repatriation process (of Rohingyas),” he said, addressing a virtual event marking the 54th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Day, organized by the ASEAN-Dhaka Committee.

The foreign minister said no displaced people of Myanmar returned to their homes mostly in last four years even after knowing that there is no violence in the Rakhine state because of fear of uncertainty and trust defect.

“ASEAN should walk together to reduce their trust and uncertainty and facilitate their safe repatriation,” he said.

Dr Momen warned that prolonged presence of such a huge number of displaced people entails serious ramification on the economy, environment, security, and socio-political stability of not only Bangladesh but the entire region, including the ASEAN.

“We need to make a tangible progress in terms of a safe, secure and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland, Myanmar,” he observed.

Mentioning that ASEAN is standing at a crossroad of previous success and future opportunities, Momen said, Bangladesh considers it as crucial to maintain regional peace, stability and security if the region is to attain full potential.

The foreign minister said Bangladesh wishes to intensify political, trade, economic and cultural connectivity with the ASEAN and wants to develop sectoral cooperation.

“Our relationship with the ASEAN community is, by any standard, one of our key foreign policy priorities … We wish to institutionalize our relations with ASEAN,” he said.

Momen said it could be done initially through Sectoral Dialogue Partnership leading to full Dialogue Partnership in future.

The foreign minister suggested that Bangladesh could be an attractive destination for ASEAN investors, who are looking for good returns on their investment.

With its unique geographical location, he said, Bangladesh can act as a “bridge” between South Asia and South East Asia acting as a gateway to the land locked countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Northeast India for the ASEAN countries.

“Institutionalization of this relationship will not only build bridges between the two ancient regions, it will also foster investment, trade flow and social and cultural exchanges for future generations,” he observed.

The foreign minister said Bangladesh believes that it can be one of ASEAN’s strongest partners while Dhaka shares a common agenda for peace, development, security and economic prosperity with its member countries.

Malaysian High Commissioner here Haznah Md Hashim presided over the event as the Chair of the ASEAN-Dhaka Committee (ADC) while heads of missions of others Southeast countries here joined.

The ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and later years Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam Lao PDR, and Cambodia joined the platform making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.