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Foreign Secretary Shahidul: The Rohingya are forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals, not refugees

'Rohingya people have taken shelter in Bangladesh in terror of their lives. But, we do not want to call them refugees. We have a strong logic behind this'

Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque has said the government has decided to call Rohingya people “forcibly displaced nationals from Myanmar” instead of “refugees.”

He said this at a discussion meeting on “Universal Periodic Review Stakeholder Report,” organised by Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB) at the Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka on Thursday.

“Rohingya people, fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, have taken shelter in Bangladesh in terror of their lives. But, we do not want to call them refugees. And, we have a strong logic behind this,” he said.

Presenting the report at the programme, Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said Bangladesh was far from implementing political and citizens’ rights of its people.

Ain o Shalish Kendra Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza said the report shows that violence against women and children has rose to a worrying level in recent years in Bangladesh.

“Incidents of rape and murder have significantly increased in the last eight months. On an average, five women were killed per month following rape during this period, while in the last year two women were killed a month on average,” Hafiza said.

She recommended building more victim support centres and “One Stop Crisis” centres to provide treatment to the growing number of rape victims.

HRFB in its report said there has been a significant spike in extrajudicial killings though the government frequently repeats its “zero-tolerance” approach to such killings.

A total of 823 people were killed in extrajudicial fashion between 2013 and June 2017, it said.

HRFB put forward a set of recommendations on stopping extrajudicial killings, including acknowledging that such killings are taking place, setting a timeline to amend laws, where necessary, and punishing those involved following a speedy investigation.

HRFB also demanded that Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act-2013 be effectively implemented to prevent tortures and deaths at the hands of police.

It suggested forming an independent body to probe allegations of custodial deaths or custodial tortures, conducting a fair trial, and compensating the victims.

The report shows that 347 people fell prey to enforced disappearance between 2013 and June 2017, while 147 people were killed and 278 others wounded by border forces during the same period.

Some 117 journalists were subjected to different forms of assault, including physical and psychological, in the last year, it reveals.

The report, based on available data on the government’s commitments to uphold human rights, also put forth a number of recommendations on ensuring rights of activists, prisoners, children and women.


© 2017 Dhaka Tribune

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