Priyanka Chopra Meets Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh, U.S. Seeks Investigation into Killing of Hindus by ARSA in Myanmar
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 24. (AP/PTI)
Actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra sought to draw the world’s attention to the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees, as she met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and lauded the country for its response to the massive humanitarian crisis, May 24.
Deeply concerned over the Amnesty International report on the alleged killing of Hindu villagers by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the U.S. said, May 25, there was an urgent need for a credible and independent investigation into the human rights violations in Myanmar’s restive Rakhine province.
Chopra, who arrived in Bangladesh, May 21, on a four-day visit, also visited and met some of the displaced Rohingyas of Myanmar living in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, a town on the southeast coast of the country.
“The world should learn from Bangladesh,” a spokesperson from the prime minister’s office quoted Chopra as saying during her meeting with Hasina.
The prime minister’s additional press secretary Nazrul Islam said the Bollywood star particularly praised Hasina for shouldering the burden of over a million “forcibly displaced” ethnic minority population of Myanmar during her courtesy visit at the premier’s Gonobhaban residence this afternoon.
Chopra, 35, who visited the Rohingya camps for the second time, shared her comparative experience of interacting with the children there, saying over the months they overcame the trauma of violence they witnessed at their homeland, the official said.
“Earlier, when I visited the Rohingya camps I asked the children to draw a picture … they drew pictures of arms, gunfire and mortar shell from roving helicopters.
“As I told them to do the same this time they drew pictures of sun, animals and nature,” Chopra said, terming the change as a “testimony of their inside healing.”
“And it was possible due to your motherly shelter and security,” she told Hasina.
The prime minister’s sister, Sheikh Rehana, and family members were present during the call on.
Chopra, however, feared the Rohingya children still were exposed to a hazardous situation in their camps.
On behalf of the UN’s children emergency relief fund, she called upon the international community to extend all out support for the Rohingyas.
The “Quantico” star told Hasina that she was concerned about the possibility of a “generation loss” of a particular ethnicity as a large number of children have no access to education and passing their days roaming around.
“The children may go astray and even become extremists if they are deprived of the opportunity of having education,” Chopra feared.
Hasina told Chopra that her government has given shelter to the Rohingyas solely on humanitarian ground as people of Bangladesh experienced the same situation in 1971.
Hasina also said that her government has been making efforts to give the Rohaingyas all support, but it was not possible alone for Bangladesh to mitigate their sufferings and UNICEF and other international agencies should come forward with more support.
According to the UN, the humanitarian crisis caused by escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has forced close to seven lakh Rohingyas to cross the border into Cox’s Bazar.
Not only has the pace of arrivals since August last year till April this year has made this the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world, the concentration of refugees in Cox’s Bazar is now amongst the densest in the world. – Anisur Rahman/PTI
Meanwhile in U.S.
“We are deeply concerned by Amnesty’s report on the killing of Hindu villagers by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Accountability for all those responsible for human rights abuses and violations in northern Rakhine state remains critical,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told PTI.
He said the report further highlights the urgent need for a credible and independent investigation in Rakhine state to further determine all facts on the ground to fix accountability and provide justice to victims.
“The United States continues to support such an investigation,” the spokesperson said.
In its report early this week, the Amnesty International said a Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords was responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017.
“At around 8 am on 25 August 2017, ARSA attacked the Hindu community in the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, in a cluster of villages known as Kha Maung Seik in northern Maungdaw Township. At the time of the attack, the Hindu villagers lived in close proximity to Rohingya villagers, who are predominantly Muslim. Rakhine villagers, who are predominantly Buddhist, also lived in the same area,” Amnesty said in its latest report.
In a statement Burma Task Force, a coalition of 19 U.S. and Canadian Muslim organizations, slammed the Amnesty International for “such a report.” “It is a major public relations bonanza for the genocidal Burmese regime. It puts 60,000 Rohingyas in India even at more risk than they already are,” it said.
“The Amnesty International report presents, as fact, evidence and conclusions that are both seriously questionable, and by doing so it aids the propaganda efforts of a regime whose every action suggests it is bent on carrying out genocide,” the task force said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act 2019, which addresses the issue of alleged ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.
“This provision imposes new sanctions on Burmese military officials and bars their forces from U.S. joint drills,” Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.
Over the past year, the Burmese military has escalated its decades-long campaign against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. More than 7,00,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee and thousands have been slaughtered. Entire villages have been bu