Dhaka has asked Myanmar to apologise over its Religious Affairs Minister Thura U Aung Ko’s recent “brainwashing of Rohingya” comments.
Foreign ministry’s maritime affairs secretary summoned the Myanmar envoy in Dhaka Wednesday and conveyed Bangladesh’s extreme displeasure about the policy which was manifested by the recent remarks of Myanmar Religious Affairs Minister Thura U Aung Ko.
Ambassador Lwin Oo was not even offered a cup of tea in the meeting, according to ministry officials.
The Myanmar regime has been pursuing its apartheid policy towards Rohingyas and the current democratic government is also following the path to retain popular support.
On Nov 27, Myanmar Minister Thura U Aung Ko said during a funeral that Islam was an “extreme religion” and a threat to Buddism.
"While we Buddhists practise monogamy and have only one or two children, an extreme religion encourages three or four wives and give birth to 15 to 20 children," he said. "After three, four, five decades in this Buddhist country, the Buddhist community will certainly become the minority."
On Tuesday (Dec 4), the minister claimed during an interaction with journalists in Nay Pyi Taw that 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh and the country is making money and not allowing them to return to Rakhine.
He also claimed that Rohingya youths were being “brainwashed” and that they would “march” to Myanmar.
A Bangladesh foreign ministry said, “We conveyed to the Myanmar ambassador that the minister’s comment is totally unacceptable as he hurt the feelings of Muslim.”
In November 2017, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal for the return of Rohingyas, who fled from Rakhine and if that is the case how the religious minister termed them as ‘Bengali’, said the official who asked not to be named.
“We told the ambassador that the minister has no knowledge about history, culture and religion,” added the official.
The envoy was told that historically Bangladesh was prosperous than Myanmar and not a single Bangladeshi crossed the border to settle themselves in Rakhine, according to the official.
Another official said, the religious minister claimed that 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, but before Aug 25, 2017, over 300,000 took shelter in Cox’s Bazar.
“It is a blatant lie that Bangladesh is obstructing repatriation process as due to the presence of Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, it is paying economical, social and ecological costs,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
“Due to Myanmar’s unabated anti-Rohingyas policy, not a single Rohingya agreed to go back on Nov 15,” added the official.
Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to start the repatriation process on Nov 15 this year but nobody expressed their willingness to go back to due to security concerns.
They also have concerns over livelihood, freedom of movement, access to basic rights and pathway to citizenship. The Myanmar authorities did not address any of the issue to create a congenial environment.
Meanwhile, a Reuters report said: Myanmar’s Minister for Religion Thura Ko on Tuesday said Rohingya Muslim refugees living in neighbouring Bangladesh are being "brainwashed" into "marching" on the Buddhist-majority nation, amid a diplomatic feud over the fate of the persecuted minority.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in the wake of a brutal army crackdown last August, U.N. agencies say, and are now living in crowded Bangladeshi refugee camps. U.N. investigators have accused Myanmar soldiers of carrying out mass killings, rapes and burning hundreds of villages with "genocidal intent". Myanmar denies most of the allegations.
Thura Aung Ko said Bangladesh was "not letting them return", referring to the Rohingya as "Bengalis", a term commonly used in Myanmar to imply that they are recent interlopers from Bangladesh. Rohingya say they are native to Rakhine state.
"If release them, the population will drop," he said in a video shared by NewsWatch, a news website. "And then, they, at the camps, also feed and brainwash Bengali youths to truly march. They will march on Myanmar. The future goal of those over populated Bengalis is to march on Myanmar."
Plans to repatriate an initial group of 2,260 Rohingya from the camps last month were scuppered after none of the refugees agreed to go back, saying they wanted guarantees of safety and citizenship.
Thura Aung Ko, a former general who was appointed to the cabinet by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi after she came to power in 2016, was expanding on comments he made at the funeral of a prominent monk last week. On Nov. 27, he expounded on birth rates among members of an unnamed "extreme religion" and the threat it posed to Buddhism in Myanmar.