Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has told Al Jazeera that her country cannot afford to accomodate more Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.
During an interview to Al Jazeera in London on Friday Hasina said this.
The statement follows reports that Bangladeshi authorities have been rejecting many of the asylum seekers.
Hasina defended the policy, saying Bangladesh is already overpopulated. There are already about 300,000 Rohingya living in refugee camps in the country.
Hasina said that it is not her country’s responsibility to help all of the refugees.
Here is the interview posted by Al Jazeera on its website:
Hasina: It is upto their government, so you should put pressure or you should talk to the Myanmar government not to Bangladesh. It is not the Bangladesh people’s responsibility, right?
Al Jazeera: These are people in a desperate humanitarian situation and surely there are basic principles, human principles, moral principles, that compel you to help them.
Hasina: Bangladesh is already an overpopulated country, we cannot bear this burden. You should realise that. But now things are okay. Things are improving, so no refugees are coming.
Al Jazeera: But in the last two months, we have seen the pictures ourselves, Bangladeshi guards physically turning people back, returning them to danger…
Hasina: No, listen, listen, Bangladeshi guards, they behaved humanitarianly; they provided food for them, medicine for them, they provided money and they just allowed them to return to their own home.
Al jjazeera: Not allow but they forced them to return….
Hasina: No, it is not true. They did not force them, rather they pursued them that, ‘you should go back to your own country,’ and they went back.
Al Jazeera: PM, you know full well that they are being persecuted in their own country, they tried to run away and they were refused entry to your country.
Hasina: Well, why we should allow to enter our country? We just pursue them, and we provided them all, everything what they needed. Why you are asking these questions? You should ask these questions to the Myanmar government. It is not our responsibility, it is their responsibility.
Al Jazeera: And have you ever expressed concern to the government of Myanmar about how the Rohingya are treated in Arakan province?
Hasina: Of course, we do.
Al Jazeera: And what do they say?
Hasina: Well, they are creating congenial atmosphere, they are providing all the assistance everything.
Al Jazeera: Do you actually believe that?
Hasina: Yes, why not?
Al Jazeera: Do you think, the Rohingya are treated fairly in Arakan province?
Hasina: Ah, I told you that it is their citizen! So, it is upto them.