WORLD

Turkey playing active role to end Rohingya crisis: Envoy

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Turkey's stance on the oppressed Rohingya Muslims is an example of active and robust diplomacy, Turkey's ambassador to Myanmar told Anadolu Agency.

Kerem Divanlıoğlu said that Turkey is the leading country in the international arena for supporting Rohingya Muslims with a "three-pillar" policy.

The first pillar is to become actively involved in international platforms such as the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Divanlıoğlu said.

Turkey is keeping a "human-centered" attitude during bilateral and multilateral consultations with the Association of Southeast Nations on Rohingya Muslims, Turkish ambassador said.

The second pillar of Turkey's support to the vulnerable community inside Rakhine and in refugee camps in the neighboring Bangladesh.

Stressing that Turkey's diplomacy continues both on the ground and at the table, Divanlıoğlu said: "Turkey is one of a handful of countries conducting very difficult projects with its own capacity in Myanmar. Turkey, with its principled and constructive attitude, is also winning the approval of the Myanmar government."

"Therefore, the Myanmar administration allows us to operate on the ground. Accessing the field is very crucial for Turkey. The locals must feel Turkey as a big and strong country on their side."

The third pillar is dialogue with the official authorities in Myanmar, he said and added: "We can do all activities in dialogue with Myanmar administration."

High-level contacts with the Myanmar administration are crucial, according to the Turkish envoy who believes Turkish President Erdoğan's phone call with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in September 2017 played a critical role in problem solving.

"This is an international and humanitarian issue. Turkey plays a very active role in this issue and we want to maintain our three-pillar policy".

'Conditions must be met for Rohingya return'

On the return of around one million Rohingya Muslims who are living in very difficult conditions in refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh, Divanlıoğlu said the peaceful return of Rohingya refugees is the top priority of his country.

He touched upon a 2017 agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingya and added: "The deal is not working, not a single member of Rohingya community has returned yet."

"Rohingya Muslims do not want to return to Myanmar without being assured of their safety, provided with access to their previous livelihoods and having their legal status clarified, such as citizenship," he said.

Divanlıoğlu added that the second priority is to hold those who violated human rights during the military crackdown on the persecuted community in 2017 accountable.

The third priority is to put an end to discriminatory and exclusionary policies against Rohingya Muslims.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh over 1.2 million.

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