Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday accused Myanmar of using delaying tactics to block the return of Rohingya refugees to their homes in Rakhine state, Reuters reported. The prime minister was speaking to the news agency on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
More than 7 lakh Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after the Myanmar Army started a crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017. The crackdown was in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on police posts and a military base. Myanmar treats Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not acknowledge their rights as an official ethnic group.
Hasina said her nation was already reeling from the responsibility towards its 160 million population and could not provide a permanent refuge for the Rohingyas who were forced across the border. “I cannot take any other burden,” Hasina said. “My country cannot bear.”
In November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed to begin repatriation within two months. The repatriation process, however, is yet to begin with both governments accusing each other of thwarting the process.
Hasina said her administration’s patience with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi was growing thin. “They [Myanmar] agree on everything, but unfortunately they do not act, that is the problem,” Hasina said.
Attempts to contact Myanmar’s government spokesman, Zaw Htay, for his reaction were futile, according to Reuters.
The Army’s actions were referred to as “ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations and the United States. Myanmar has consistently refuted the claims, saying the international community was making false allegations.