Hasina Urges India to Pressure Myanmar Over Rohingya Refugees

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says her country has been alone in bearing the burden of hosting the Rohingya refugees. Image Credit: Russell Watkins/ Department for International Development UK. CC BY 2.0

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said she wants to India to lean on Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees languishing in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

‘We expect that India should use its clout a bit more to pressurise Myanmar to back the refugees. And we also need an assurance that there would not be incidents of violence against the Rohingyas after they return to their land,’ Hasina said, during a press interaction in Dhaka.

India has been hesitant to take on Myanmar for fear of losing influence in that country to China.

Bangladesh says it’s hosting more than a million Rohingya refugees, though others place the number at about 700,000. Buddhist-majority Myanmar has persecuted the Muslim Rohingya for decades and denied most of them citizenship. Bangladesh began receiving a deluge of Rohingya refugees last August following a military crackdown.

Hasina pointed out that Bangladesh was hosting most of the Rohingya refugees. ‘We had given shelter to Rohingyas when all countries, including India, refused to allow them an entry,’ she said.

About 40,000 Rohingyas from a previous exodus are currently living in India. Last August the government said it was planning to deport them, though it has refrained from doing so after Indian lawyers approached the Supreme Court (The case is still ongoing).

Bangladesh has been trying to get Myanmar to take back some refugees. The two sides missed a January 23 deadline to repatriate some refugees. Last week, Bangladesh handed over to Myanmar a list with the names of 8,000 refugees due for repatriation. Separately, on Tuesday, both sides discussed what to do about more than 5,000 Rohingya ‘trapped on a strip of unclaimed land between their two countries’.

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