Bangladesh blasts 'racist' remarks about Rohingya

Calling Rohingya members of 'extreme religion' is insult, and ignores reasons Rohingya fear returning, say Dhaka officials

Bangladesh blasts 'racist' remarks about Rohingya

Bangladesh on Wednesday condemned as “racist” a Myanmar official branding Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh as being “brainwashed” members of an “extreme religion.”

On Tuesday Thura Aung Ko, Myanmar’s religion minister, said Bangladesh was "not letting them [Rohingya] return," claiming the Rohingya Muslim refugees living in Bangladesh are being "brainwashed".

“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."

 In November, a plan to repatriate an initial group of 2,260 Rohingya from camps in Bangladesh was suspended, as the refugees feared renewed persecution by the Myanmar government and military. 

Summoning Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka, the Foreign Ministry blasted the remarks as reflecting the country’s “racist” policy towards its citizens, reported local media.

Senior ministry officials told reporters that the current Myanmar government follows the previous military junta’s “racist” principle towards Rohingya Muslims in order to curry local popular support.     

Ministry officials added that such remarks insults Muslims, which is unacceptable, and also rebuffed the claim that Bangladesh is keeping the Rohingya from returning.

In fact the Myanmar stance against the Rohingya causes their unwillingness to return, they added.