Published:  03:11 AM, 01 October 2019

Anti-graft purge to continue: PM

Anti-graft purge to continue: PM Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressing a press conference at the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN in New York on Sunday. -PID

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to continue the anti-corruption drive to wipe out disparity from the society."We're continuing the drive against corruption to prevent the recurrence of 1/11-like incidents… I brought it upon myself to right the wrong," she said at a news conference in New York on Sunday.

 "It was necessary to strike a blow against this corrupt part of our society," she said backing security forces' recent drive against corruption.

Her comments shed light on the involvement of Jubo League leaders in running illicit gambling facilities in Dhaka and elsewhere.

The Rapid Action Battalion busted illegal casinos in raids on Young Men's Club, Wanderers Club and Muktijoddha Krira Chakra on Sept 18 after the prime minister expressed her ire over the activities of the leaders.

"We've been in power for long. Therefore, it's a common tendency to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to our flaws," she said on a question why the Awami League and its associate bodies are often making the headlines once the drive against corruption kicked off.

Emphasizing that the drive is necessary to bring equality to society, the prime minister, said: "The nouveau riche creates disparity in the society leaving the children of honest people frustrated."

 "Children are innocent; therefore, they ask their parents -- 'if they can come to school in expensive cars and wear expensive clothes then why can't we?' A society cannot move forward in such situation," she said. "We need to look for the root causes of the irregularities.

Those who assassinated the Father of the Nation on Aug 15, 1975 and grabbed power illegally, wanted to create a political party. They created an elite class and also spoiled the politics as they spent a lot of money. They are the people who take bribe and engage in corruption but will look for halal foods. This is their true nature," said Hasina.

She said that some people may become unhappy with her about the drive. "I don't care as I neither hanker after power, nor wealth."

The prime minister said she is in politics to work for the well-being of people. "I'm trying my best. The economy is growing. I want everyone to live a better life. But I can't accept a group of people spoiling the society. I'll do whatever is needed."

On another question, Hasina said that she handed over a letter on the extradition of Rashed Chowdhury, a fugitive assassin of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to US President Donald Trump during the luncheon hosted by the UN secretary general.

 "The USA is always very much vocal about the human rights issue. Then how could the killers of the Father of the Nation, women and children stay in that country," she said.

On the Rohingya issue, the prime minister said it is a shame that the Rohingyas cannot trust Myanmar despite being its citizens. "Whatever words they speak, Myanmar has created the problem and they'll have to resolve it."

Her remarks followed comments made by a Myanmar leader in the 74th UNGA in which he described Bangladesh's demand for creating a safe zone in Myanmar for Rohingyas as baseless.

The prime minister said Myanmar has created the crisis and it must take its responsibility.  "Myanmar has created the problem and they'll have to resolve it."

"This is our biggest question why they're not taking their nationals back from Bangladesh?" she asked.Sheikh Hasina said Myanmar should create confidence among Rohingyas so that they can return to their homeland, she said.The prime minister said she wanted a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis evading confrontation with anybody over the issue.

 "I don't want to fight with anybody. I want a peaceful solution, because they (Myanmar) are my next-door neighbor," she told Today's WorldView, the weekday newsletter of The Washington Post.

The premier, however, said if the international community thought sanctions against Myanmar could work to resolve the crisis that could be "fine, well and good". "But I can't suggest that," the prestigious US newspaper quoted her as saying.

An article ran by Today's Worldview titled "The Rohingya Crisis Can't Stay Bangladesh's Burden, prime minister says," written by foreign affairs reporter Ishaan Tharoor.It also stated that Sheikh Hasina told she has discussed the matter with Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and Myanmar's de facto civilian leader.

"She then (Suu Kyi) blamed the military. She told me that the military doesn't listen to her that much," the premier told the newsletter, referring to a 2016 conversation at a regional summit hosted in India.

But the Myanmar leader has followed in lockstep with the country's military and refuses to even use the word "Rohingya" to describe the ethnic group that long persecuted by the central state in Rakhine.

"Now I can see she (Suu Kyi) has changed her position," Sheikh Hasina told the newspaper.The article said Sheikh Hasina is sympathetic to the plight of Rohingyas.

"It's a big burden for Bangladesh, no doubt. But what they faced was almost some kind of genocide," she told during the interview at a midtown hotel in Manhattan on Friday, referring to the violence on Rohingya communities in 2017.

"Killing, torturing, arson, rape, and so many things happened. They were bound to run away from their country for their safety and security," she told the newspaper.

If they have to stay longer in Bangladesh, very easily they can be converted or join" militant groups," the premier said adding her government confirmed new measures last week to build barbed-wire fences around Rohingya camps and to patrol their perimeters.

The Bangladeshi prime minister said the Rohingyas have been given shelter for now. "They are in my soil," she said. "What else can we do?"

Sheikh Hasina hoped that the international community could apply more pressure on her neighbor."The problem with Myanmar is that they don't listen to anybody," she said.She pointed to the reports of girls and young women falling prey to illicit human-trafficking networks that have reached into the camps, home to more than 1 million Rohingyas.

The article said that in her speech last week from the dais of the UN General Assembly, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the international community must "understand the untenable" of the status quo.

Her nation, she added, is dealing with "a crisis which is Myanmar's own making." Authorities in Myanmar view the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim minority, as interloper s and noncitizens - a position rejected by the international community, it said.

The reporter posed several questions in the article such as do they contemplate returning home to a country where their political rights will not be guaranteed and threats of violence remain? Or do they remain in limbo in the camps, eking out a bleak existence in a country that is straining under their presence?

Others are not so convinced, the article said, quoting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the United Nations last week as saying , "The Myanmar government are unaffected and maintain that these were efforts to fight terrorists."

"This is what we are disappointed with, because we know that what is truly happening is a genocide, "Mahathir added.

Quoting to a recent report, the write up mentioned that a UN- commissioned report warned that the same violent conditions that provoked the 2017 exodus persist in Rakhine state.

"There is a strong inference of genocidal intent on the part of Myanmar's government, there is a serious risk that genocidal actions may recur, and Myanmar is failing in its obligation to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalizing and punishing genocide," the report concluded.

"Myanmar has done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution and the Rohingyas who remain in Rakhine live in the same dire circumstances that they did prior to the events of August 2017," Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told reporters earlier this month.

The article said that although there have been agreements with Myanmar, also known as Burma, to repatriate small numbers of refugees, the overwhelming majority are too afraid to return.

Rohingya rights advocates say the refugees fear returning to a precarious state in Myanmar, where they could be vulnerable to attacks from the sort of pro-government vigilante mobs and military forces who razed their villages and murdered and raped their loved ones, it mentioned.

They (Rohingyas) demand a guarantee of citizenship from state authorities, something the government of Myanmar is hardly willing to oblige, the article noted.

A citizenship law enacted in 1982 stripped the Rohingya of the same privileges and citizenship rights of other ethnic minority groups in the country, it said, adding that officials in Myanmar cast the Rohingya as a "Bengali" population and describe the violent campaign in 2017 as a counterterrorism operation against dangerous insurgents in Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh.



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