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April 3, 2018 Centre for Peace and Justice

Sanctions lifted following emergence of democracy in Myanmar, such as travel bans on military leaders, should be reimposed while its access to markets and foreign investment given a second thought, suggested Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi.

The military only understood pressure and sitting idle will undo the state system, he said adding that every Rohingya refugee he had talked to wanted to go back to Rakhine state, albeit only when their safety and security was ensured.

Rizvi was addressing the end of a two-day international conference at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Hall of the University of Dhaka on 3 April 2018.

The Centre for Peace and Justice of BRAC University, the Centre for Genocide Studies of the University of Dhaka and non-government organisation ActionAid Bangladesh jointly organised the conference on “Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Towards Sustainable Solutions”.

The organisers adopted a 16-point Dhaka Declaration, read out by Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, director of the Centre for Genocide Studies.

In it, they called upon the international community to ensure the voluntary, dignified and safe return of the 1.04 million Rohingyas who have taken refuge in Bangladesh on fleeing killings, rapes and torching of houses in Rakhine state.

They also called for a comprehensive investigation into the genocide, mass atrocities, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Manzoor Hasan, executive director of the Centre for Peace and Justice, and Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, also spoke at the concluding ceremony.

Addressing the inaugural session as chief guest the day before, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said, “This is a multidimensional and multilayer problem. We are trying to resolve the issue bilaterally and also kept open the multilateral windows.”

“The crisis did not originate from any conflict between Bangladesh and Myanmar. This is something between Myanmar and its own people…We are also continuously pursuing the issue at ASEAN and OIC,” he added.

The two-day event saw six sessions in total focusing on humanitarian response, protection issues, implications for gender, women & children, people with disability, economic costs, presentation of evidence, legal instruments, voices of the diaspora, security issues and geo-political dimensions.

Ambassadors Farooq Sobhan, Nasim Firdaus, Muhammad Zamir and Munshi Faiz Ahmad, UN Women Programme Specialist Dilruba Haider and Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed chaired the sessions.

There was also a photography exhibition at the venue, providing a visual narrative of the crisis.

Diplomats, academics and foreign relations experts from 11 countries, including India, Thailand, the US, the UK, Sweden, Singapore, Malaysia and Bangladesh, attended the conference.