Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has urged the Western leaders to impose strong economic sanctions on Myanmar to expedite the Rohingya repatriation efforts.
He also urged the ASEAN leaders to strengthen their ongoing efforts to help create a conducive environment within Myanmar to help the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals return to their homeland.
Momen made the call while speaking at the 29th Meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) under the theme “ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together” held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Friday.
He said it is now the fifth year of the Rohingya crisis but not a single forcibly displaced Myanmar national has been repatriated to Myanmar.
The Foreign Minister, who led the Bangladesh delegation to the 29th ARF meeting, said strengthening ongoing efforts to help create an environment within Myanmar will encourage the Rohingyas to return.
Momen raised the issue of the high foreign direct investment (FDI) Myanmar secured despite the genocide it committed and atrocities it did.
He also pointed out that after the 2017 Rohingya invasion, even the European Union (EU) countries’ trade and investment increased substantially.
In terms of foreign direct investment, the EU was the 5th largest foreign investor following other Asian countries, Momen said.
He also recalled the history that during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, there was economic sanction on Myanmar and therefore, they repatriated thousands of their nationals in the 1970s and 1990s through dialogue and discussions.
Momen said unless economic sanction is imposed on Myanmar, Myanmar is unlikely to listen to world leadership, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that delaying the repatriation process may pose a security threat to the entire region and beyond.
He highlighted some key challenges including recurring waves of new variants of Covid -19, global turmoil due to conflict in Europe, climate change, economic recession, and food and commodity crises that can only be adequately and effectively addressed through mutual trust and cooperation underpinned by multilateral arrangements like ARF.
Momen said the Bangladesh government is working relentlessly under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to transform Bangabandhu’s vision into a reality.
On Saturday morning, Momen met Foreign Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) Saleumxay Kommasith reviewed the whole gamut of the existing excellent bilateral relations.
During the meeting, he invited Laos to invest in different sectors, particularly in priority sectors in the Economic Zones, agriculture and ICT sectors of Bangladesh.
Momen also proposed the regular exchange of trade delegation and trade related offer in order to create opportunities and potentials for bilateral trade and investment which is essential for both countries.
He urged the Foreign Minister of Lao PDR to play a more proactive role in bringing a sustainable solution to the protracted Rohingya crisis by initiating a speedy, safe and dignified repatriation of the forcibly displaced people back to their motherland Myanmar.
He requested Lao PDR to exert its friendly influence on Myanmar to take its citizens back to Myanmar.