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Bangladesh: Open borders to Myanmar Refugees

Bangladesh: Open borders to Myanmar Refugees
  
  

 

Why this is important to me

We, the following citizens of Bangladesh have come together to express our grave concern at the outbreak of sectarian violence in the Northern Rakhine State of Burma/Myanmar leading to potential influx of the victims across borders seeking refuge in Bangladesh. While we fully appreciate that another flow of refugees will add burdens upon our capacity, we call upon the Government to review the reported decision to close its borders preventing the victims who are clearly in desparate need to escape violence and deaths, and allow them temporary refuge under special arrangement with the UNHCR. We make this appeal inspired by our own history and from an understanding that human rights are indivisible, and protection of victims of violation of human rights in one country is a shared responsibility of another, particularly in the immediate neighbourhood.

We recall that as a nation we were beneficiaries of similar assistance in 1971 during our war of liberation, which saw one of the world's largest influxes of refugees to a neighbouring country. While we are mindful of the implications of wholesale opening of borders, we would urge the Bangladesh Government to allow, at least in a controlled manner acceptable under international standards, entry to refugees, especially those most in need of medical assistance and emergency protection. At the same time we would call upon our Government to actively play a role in urging the Myanmar Government to resolve its internal conflicts and together with international humanitarian agencies, find a long term resolution to this refugee crisis.

In this regard, we commend the role of the current and past governments of Bangladesh in allowing Rohingya refugees to take refuge in Bangladesh since the 1970s, many of whom still remain in Bangladesh. We call upon our Government to once more open our borders to the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar seeking sanctuary in Bangladesh from sectarian violence and to ensure humanitarian assistance to them in time of need. By denying access and protection to the vulnerable Rohingyas, Bangladesh is not only putting lives in grave danger but also risks missing an opportunity to demonstrate that we are fully respectful of international obligations and that we are a nation that is sensitive to human rights violations anywhere in the world, especially in our region.

Even while putting in place necessary measures for security and law and order in Bangladesh, the Government should do all it can to not only open its borders to the refugees in need but also provide necessary humanitarian assistance. In this regard we also call upon the Government to negotiate hard with the international community, particularly UNHCR to secure full support to minimize possible burden, and to ensure specific timeline for return of all Rohingya refugees in our territory.
Posted June 14, 2012
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