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Foreign Minister calls for ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and violent extremism

Foreign Minister calls for ‘zero tolerance’ approach to all forms and manifestations of terrorism and violent extremism and developing global partnership.

Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP expressed concerns at the lack of tolerance and surge of terrorism in various parts of the world especially within the countries of Muslim Ummah in recent times. Appreciating important role played by the OIC over the years in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism, he calls for intensified involvement of the OIC both with international organizations like the UN and also at the inter-governmental level in countering terrorism and promoting peace and tolerance.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister made this call this morning while delivering his statement on behalf of the Asian Group for the second consecutive year during the inaugural session of the 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC which took place in Bayan Palace in Kuwait on the theme “Joint Vision to Promote Tolerance and Reject Terrorism”.

He also expressed optimism that this Council would be able to address some of the pressing issues facing Islamic Ummah, such as, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, situation in Yemen- where Bangladesh has expressed its firm position in support of its unity and stability, Muslim Minorities in Myanmar-who are now subject to systematic discrimination and forced to register as “Bengalis”. There is a growing concern that such treatment may lead them to be radicalized and recruited by terrorist networks operating in the region he added.

Foreign Minister thanked the Government of the State of Kuwait for hosting the Council meeting that was inaugurated by the Amir of Kuwait His Royal Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

During the day, the Foreign Minister also participated in a Special Session on the theme ‘“Effective Strategy to Combat Terrorism, Violent Extremism and Islamophobia”. In his intervention, the Foreign Minister reiterated Bangladesh’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to terrorism and violent extremism in all forms and manifestations.

For adopting an effective OIC strategy, he found merit in establishing the proposed Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism Unit in the OIC Secretariat to coordinate the implementation of the proposed Strategy, including strengthening its existing mechanisms to monitor and counter the rising trend of Islamophobia.

He called for mobilizing the existing and available resources of the OIC to reach out to the target audience in a smart, efficient and effective manner to outsmart those working to the detriment of the entire Islamic world.

As a member of the OIC Contact Group on Muslim Minority in Myanmar, Foreign Minister also attended a meeting on the sidelines of the 42nd CFM. During his deliberation, the Foreign Minister referred to Bangladesh and Myanmar agreement, negotiated and signed in 1992, where the Rohingyas in Rakhaine state were referred to as “members of the Myanmar society”.

In this context, he mentioned that in a speech at the University of Yangon in November, 2012, the US President recognized the Rohingyas as ‘part of Myanmar nation’ and opined that they “…hold within themselves the same dignity as you do, and I do.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also cautioned Myanmar against ‘institutionalised discrimination’ against the Rohingyas.

The Foreign Minister expressed Bangladesh’s concern at the fact that Myanmar authorities barred the Muslim minority in Rakhine State from taking part in the recent census, unless they identify themselves as “Bengalis”.

The OIC Secretary General underlined the need for the OIC member states to exert pressure on the Myanmar government to restore citizenship rights of these people without discrimination and reinstate their citizenship right.

During his speech, the Hon’ble Foreign Minister fully endorsed his views. He also appreciated the initiatives of Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar and former Malaysian Foreign Minister Tan Sri Hamid Albar and welcomed his recommendations to curb this situation through Short-term, Mid-term and Long-term approaches engaging regional and international partners to address the root causes of the problem.

He cautioned that the spillover effect of Rohingya issue has now reached not only the shores of Bangladesh but also the shores of our three South East Asian neighbours and therefore this critical issue has to be dealt by regional and international perspective in its entirety to have a permanent resolution to this long standing problem.

In the evening, he met the Indonesian Foreign Minister Her Excellency Ms. Retno Lelter.P. Marsudi. They discussed regional issues and shared their concern over the plight of the “boat people”. The Foreign Minister thanked his Indonesian counterpart for agreeing to provide temporary shelter to them. He also emphasized on the need for the regional countries to engage with Myanmar for a lasting solution to this problem.

The busy day of Foreign Minister Ali ended with a call on with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait, His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. They discussed issues including exploring new avenues of mutual interest. Foreign Minister thanked his Kuwaiti counterpart for the warm hospitality extended to Bangladesh delegation and wished for a successful conclusion of the CFM.

In response, the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister praised Bangladesh for its role during their war of liberation in early 90s and subsequent assistance in removal of land mines all over the country. He also expressed satisfaction at the present level of bilateral relations and he hoped to take it to the next level. He also referred to the pending invitation to His Highness Amir of Kuwait from Hon’ble President and the invitation to His Excellency Prime Minster of Kuwait from the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Foreign Minister further invited his Kuwaiti counterpart to visit Bangladesh at a mutually convenient time which he gladly accepted.

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