See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Politics

Bangladesh to relocate Rohingya refugees to a island

International actors told to stay out of decision.


Written by

Updated: September 6, 2019

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said if the UN agencies do not support the government’s plan to move 100,000 Rohingya refugees to an island in the Bay of Bengal, they would be expelled, if necessary, reports the Deutsche Welle.

In an interview, published on the German broadcaster’s website on Wednesday, he was asked if he would expel the UN agencies if they didn’t support his plans. “We’ll do it if necessary,” he replied.

He also expressed disappointment that the UN had failed to put enough pressure on Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas.

“It is time to relocate them to Bhasan Char. But the island cannot accommodate all of them; we can send only 100,000 refugees there,” he said, when asked if the refugees’ reluctance to return to Myanmar prompted the government to make the plan.

“We didn’t want to repatriate them forcefully. We had hoped it would be done voluntarily.

“The island offers economic activities to the refugees. But the aid agencies working in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps don’t want to move to Bhasan Char. In Cox’s Bazar, they stay in five-star hotels and so they don’t want to go to another place.

“We are also identifying international non-government organisations that are politicising the Rohingya issue.”

Even if the UN agencies don’t support the relocation plan, the government might go ahead with it, the foreign minister said.

“We have seized many leaflets, CDs and videos that urge Rohingyas not to go back to Myanmar if certain demands are not met. Myanmar authorities have agreed to meet one of these demands: provide safety, security and mobility to the Rohingya people.”

Demands such as granting citizenship to Rohingyas, punishment for people involved in the Rohingya massacre, recognising Rohingya as an ethnic group, and allowing them to return to their own homes have not been agreed upon.

The government can relocate 100,000 Rohingyas to Bhasan Char without UN support, Momen said.

“The UN has to agree to the plan or it can take the refugees with them. Already, some of these people are getting involved in criminal activities.”

The number of Rohingya refugees in the area is more than double the number of local citizens. The local residents are increasingly complaining of criminal activities, he said.

“We cannot allow that. That is why we could force their relocation.

“Bangladesh is not a rich nation. We’re the world’s most densely populated country. Still, we have done a lot for the Rohingya. It’s time for others to come forward because it is not just our problem. It’s an international issue, and had we not given them protection, they could have faced a genocide.

“We are willing to send them anywhere, to anyone who wants to take them. We cannot afford to keep them for years.”

The arrangement at the Bhasan Char island would be temporary. Bangladesh cannot keep them there forever, Momen said.

Asked if the government should antagonise the UN, he said the UN was not helping much.

“They are not working to create a conducive environment in Mynamar’s Rakhine state. Why don’t these UN aid agencies work in Myanmar? They should go to Myanmar, especially to Rakhine state, to create conditions that could help these refugees to go back to their country. The UN is not doing the job that we expect them to do.”

Regarding the safety of human inhabitation in the island, Momen said the government had built embankments and beautiful houses there. “If we tell Bangladeshi people to go there, they would definitely go there.”

If the refugees move to Bhasan Char, they would be able to enjoy free movement there, he said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Politics

Pakistan strongly condemns India’s remarks about ‘having control’ of AJK one day

The remarks were made by India’s foreign minister. India’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that Azad Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India and that he expected New Delhi to gain physical control over it one day, raising the rhetoric over the territorial dispute. In response, Pakistan strongly condemned and rejected “the inflammatory and irresponsible remarks made by the Indian External Affairs Minister regarding Pakistan and AJK”, according to a statement by the Foreign Office. The statement also called upon the international community to take note of the “aggressive posturing”. India claims the heavily populated Kashmir Valley while Pakistan has a wedge of territory in the west of the disputed region — Azad Jammu and Kashmir. “Our position on [Azad Kashmir] is, has always been and will always be very clear. [Azad Kashmir] is part of India and we expec


By Dawn
September 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Rohingyas in Voter List: EC staffers, fraud ring behind it

Electoral fraud sees Rohingya on voting list. A nexus of brokers and some dishonest staffers of the Election Commission’s Chattogram office provides forged national identity cards to Rohingyas, an EC investigation team has found. Three members of the syndicate were arrested on Monday. An EC laptop, used in the forgery, was recovered from their possession, EC Deputy Director (NID) Iqbal Hossain, head of the three-member team, told The Daily Star yesterday. The arrestees are Jainal Abedin, 35, office assistant of Double Mooring Election Office under the Chattogram EC office, Bijoy Das, 23, a driver, and his sister Sima Das alias Sumaiya Jahan, 26, said Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station. Yesterday, Double Mooring Thana Election Officer Pallabi Chakma filed a case against five people, including the three, with the police station under the Digital Security Act, the OC said


By Daily Star
September 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Japan officially removed from South Korea’s whitelist

Seoul has threatened the move for weeks. South Korea excluded Japan from its export controls whitelist Wednesday in retaliation for Tokyo’s earlier decision to remove Seoul from its list of favored trade partners, as bilateral relations have slumped to the lowest levels since normalizing diplomatic ties in 1965. “The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has published the revision of the nation’s trade controls on strategic items in an official gazette and it took effect from Wednesday,” said the ministry spokesperson through a statement. Since the Aug. 12 announcement by Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo that Korea would drop Japan as a preferred trading partner, the ministry has completed the necessary administrative steps, such as soliciting opinions from the public and submitting the revised rules to the Office of Legislation for review. “We have received opinions from the public throu


By The Korea Herald
September 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Beijing lauds Solomon Islands’ move to break ties with Taiwan authorities

The United States has condemned the move. China highly commends the decision of the Solomon Islands’ government to recognize the one-China principle and sever the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said late on Monday. Hua’s comment came as the Pacific island nation decided earlier on Monday at a cabinet meeting that it would break the so-called “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan authorities and establish diplomatic relationship with Beijing. Hua said in an online statement that Beijing supports the Solomon Islands’ government in “making such an important decision as a sovereign and independent country”. Beijing has made it clear that there is but one China in the world, that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government that represents the who


By China Daily
September 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

S.E. Asian manufacturing sees opportunity in U.S.-China row

By Shingo Sugime and Yoichiro Tanaka / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondents. Southeast Asian countries are intensifying their efforts to attract companies planning to move production bases outside China, as the United States and China have become entrenched in tit-for-tat sanctions and retaliatory tariffs. To attract the needed outside investment, they are offering tax incentives and other benefits. ‘Thailand Plus’ “We see the U.S.-China trade frictions as an opportunity to expand our efforts to attract foreign companies,” Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Sept. 10. On that day, the Thai government adopted what it calls the “Thailand Plus” package of preferential measures for companies that relocate factories and other facilities from China. A corporate tax deduction of up to 50 p


By The Japan News
September 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Pyongyang confirms ready to resume talks, but gives conditions

Foreign minister confuses lawmakers on whether North Korean leader’s letter to Trump was different to one already made public. The long-stalled US-North Korea working level talks on denuclearization could take place soon, a senior North Korea official signaled in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency on Monday that also set out conditions for the resumption of dialogue. The director general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level talks will likely take place in a few weeks. He said the two countries may forge closer relations or hostility depend on what Washington brings to the table. But he also set out a number of conditions.


By The Korea Herald
September 17, 2019