By Syed Zainul Abedin, Dhaka Tribune

AH Mahmood Ali, after briefing foreign diplomats on Bangladesh’s efforts to help the Rohingya refugees, said over 3,000 people have been killed in Rakhine State so far in the fresh spell of violence

The ongoing persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is similar to genocide, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has said.

“They have killed over 3,000 people there and razed their houses,” he told reporters on Sunday evening after briefing Dhaka-based foreign diplomats about the government’s efforts to provide humanitarian aids to the Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh.

After two back-to-back briefings at state guest house Padma, a number of diplomats, including the representative of Vatican to Bangladesh George Kocherry, also said that about 3,000 Rohingyas have been killed so far by Myanmar security forces in the fresh spell of violence.

The foreign minister said: “Only Naypyitaw can solve the crisis. We’ve held bilateral discussions with Myanmar on Rohingya issue. We are not going to war with them as it never solves anything.”

“Now, after facing pressure, Myanmar has agreed to repatriate the Rohingyas who have national documents.”

Mahmood Ali further added that around 300,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh in last two weeks, taking the total number of Myanmar nationals currently living here to 700,000 from 400,000.

He said the latest massive influx has made it for the government to provide shelter and other humanitarian aids to the refugees.

Ambassadors, high commissioners and chargés d’affaires of the US, the UK, EU, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Netherlands, and representatives from the UN resident coordinator’s office, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, IOM and ICRC were present at the first briefing.

In the second, ambassadors, high commissioners and chargés d’affaires of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE were present.

The foreign minister told the diplomats that Bangladesh always preferred bilateral solution to this longstanding problem and was successful in repatriating 236,599 Rohingyas through a bilateral agreement in 1992.

He reaffirmed that the 1992 agreement had recognised Rohingyas as ‘members of Myanmar society’.

Mahmood Ali also highlighted Bangladesh’s efforts in addressing the security concerns of Myanmar by proposing to sign more such agreements in 2014 on Border Liaison Office and Security Dialogue.

“Unfortunately, Myanmar didn’t respond to these proposals and has been running a malicious propaganda terming the Rohingyas as ‘illegal migrants from Bangladesh’ and the attackers to their security posts as ‘Bengali terrorists’,” he said.

Referring to the recently published report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, the minister urged the international community to push Myanmar for immediate and unconditional implementation of the recommendations made in the report for permanent solution to the crisis.

After the briefing, Joel Reifman, chargé d’affaires of US embassy in Dhaka, also said that implementation of the report’s proposals would resolve the crisis.

Mahmood Ali also requested the international community to help Bangladesh with urgent aids for the Rohingyas, their transportation to a new camp at Cox’s Bazar’s Kutupalong, and political support to ensure their safe return to their homes in Myanmar.

The foreign diplomats highly praised Bangladesh for hosting the Rohingyas for the past three decades and giving shelter to the new refugees.

UNHCR Representative Shinji Kubo had prioritised on building shelters for the refugees.