Proposal to integrate Rakhine with Bangladesh: Sheikh Hasina slams US lawmaker

Dhaka [Bangladesh]: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday criticised a top US lawmaker’s proposal to merge Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state into her country, saying it was an attempt to “start a fire in the region” and the move was “not acceptable”.

On June 13, the proposal was placed in the US Congress for bringing Rakhine state in Myanmar under Bangladesh since millions of Rohingyas fled the Buddhist-majority country and taken refuge in the neighbouring nation.

The proposal was made by Congressman Bradley Sherman, Chairman of the Sub-committee on Asia Pacific, during a hearing on the State Department’s budget for South Asia.

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“It is never right to create troubles inside a sovereign country. And the issue they have touched upon is already a burning one. There has not been any peace wherever they have stepped in but instead, it has led to militancy and unrest,” Hasina was quoted by bdnews24 as saying while reacting to the proposal.

“We are trying to bring peace to this region. But they are trying to start a fire here. This is not acceptable,” she said.

Underlining that Bangladesh respected Myanmar’s sovereignty, Hasina said that her government would never allow the integration of a territory of one’s country with another.

“We have our borders and we are happy with it. We completely disagree with adding another country’s territory to ours. We will never take it,” she stressed.

The Bangladeshi leader advised Sherman to instead urge Myanmar to allow Rohingyas to return to the country and asked the US to initiate an investigation into human rights violations.

“Sherman should instead urge Myanmar to take back its citizens. That would be a humanitarian act. And they should also look into all the human rights violations,” Hasina said.

Hasina, who recently paid a state visit to China, said she held talks with President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Rohingya crisis and informed that Beijing will work on resolving the pressing issue.

Over 1.1 million Rohingyas have been forced to take shelter in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazaar after Myanmar’s armed forces, while responding to attacks by an armed group, launched a brutal campaign against the community in Rakhine state in 2017.

According to a UN report, titled ‘Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience’, around 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were allegedly raped by Myanmar’s security forces and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalised.


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