By Dhaka Tribune

‘We have told the envoy that they (Rohingya) are your people and by signing an agreement with us, you admitted that they are your people’

Bangladesh has lodged a strong protest against Myanmar for the derogatory remarks made by one its ministers about the Muslims living in that country.

Rear Admiral (retd) Khurshed Alam, secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit of the Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh Lwin Oo and conveyed the government’s utter displeasure at the irresponsible and discriminatory remarks made by the Myanmar minister, Wednesday.

A top diplomat of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry while speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, said:“We made the ambassador know about our strong resentment of their minister’s remarks. We also told him that such words are not at all good for the relationship of the two countries, especially repatriation of the Rohingyas,” adding that “Yes, the language used were pretty strong.”

“While facing the whole Rohingya crisis, we have never considered religion as a factor. Why will they make religion issue? It appears to me that it is another Myanmar way to deter Rohingyas in Bangladesh to go back to their homes,” said the diplomat.

“We have told the envoy that they (Rohingya) are your people and by signing an agreement with us, you admitted that they are your people,” he said.

“We also reminded him to give them citizenship along with their homes and rights; all the Rohingyas will return spontaneously and that Bangladesh is more prosperous than Myanmar, so no Bangladeshi has gone to settle in Myanmar. No Rohingya is being radicalized here in Bangladesh,” he added.

When asked about the ambassador’s reply, the top diplomat said, “He was not in a position to say anything but an assurance of conveying Dhaka’s message to Naypyidaw.”

On Tuesday, Myanmar’s Minister for Religion Thura Aung Ko said Rohingya Muslim refugees living in neighboring Bangladesh are being “brainwashed” into “marching” on the Buddhist-majority nation.

Ko also said Bangladesh was “not letting them return”, referring to the Rohingya as “Bengalis”, a term commonly used in Myanmar to imply that they are recent interlopers from Bangladesh. Rohingyas say they are native to Rakhine state.

“If [they] release them, the population will drop,” he said in a video shared by NewsWatch, a news website.

The Myanmar minister further went on saying:“And then, they, at the camps, also feed and brainwash Bengali youths to truly march towards Myanmar, which is the goal of the over populated Bengalis.”

In an oblique reference to Islam, Ko, a former general, talked on November 27 about birth rates among members of an unnamed “extreme religion” and the threat it posed to Buddhism in Myanmar.

“While we Buddhists practice monogamy and have only one or two children, an extreme religion encourages having three or four wives and giving birth to 15 to 20 children,” he said in a video published by Radio Free Asia.

“After three, four, five decades in this Buddhist country, the Buddhist community will certainly become the minority,” Ko said.