MNA Editorial Desk: Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina will deliver her speech at the 74th Annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on September 27. This is going to be her 16th speech at UNGA, a record for any Bangladeshi premiere ever. She has transformed herself from a Bangladeshi leader to a global leader in the course of time. Her influence has gone beyond the 1.7 million Bangladeshi people. She has been vocal on different global issues and played a very significant role in soliciting and addressing global concerns.
Bangladesh has received huge acclamation in world forums due to her vision, leadership and integrity in not only improving the lives of Bangladeshi citizens but also that of global citizens. Her insights are strongly received by the global leaders and this year also, we expect her to bring the success of Bangladesh on different areas under the limelight as well as to focus on some areas which need to be addressed globally.
Sheikh Hasina, in recent times, has been praised for her humanitarian considerations in the global forums. It was mostly due to her bold decision to open the Bangladesh-Myanmar borders for the fleeing persecuted Rohingya people from the Rakhine state of Myanmar and thereby saving thousands of lives. Recently on September 12, the prestigious Diplomat Magazine of the Netherlands unveiled its latest edition with a cover story featuring PM Hasina titled “Sheikh Hasina: The Mother of Humanity”.
This edition was introduced to members of the Hague-based diplomatic corps, international media, business personalities, global think tanks and many others from a ceremony. Diplomats from different countries including USA, China, Russia, Brazil, Palestine, Poland, Ukraine, Morocco, Malaysia, Korea and many other countries were present at the ceremony. It was a global recognition for Bangladeshi premiere which has been a significant picture of Bangladesh in recent times.
There is no question that supporting the Rohingyas by giving them shelter on Bangladeshi soil was a great humanitarian gesture of Sheikh Hasina and the global community also significantly contributed in supporting the Bangladeshi government in the aid of the Rohingyas on the call of PM Hasina. This humanitarian action of her was praised everywhere around the globe but now it is high time to act on the repatriation of these Rohingyas.
Bangladesh government has been extending all sorts of humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, healthcare, water and sanitation etc to the persecuted Rohingya people solely on humanitarian ground despite numerous challenges to the economy, ecology and security of Bangladesh. We now need to be vocal to get the support og the global community to come forward to facilitate quick repatriation of these displaced Myanmar residents to their homeland in Rakhine with safety, security, dignity and basic rights at earliest. We need to urge the global community to eliminate the culture of impunity for the sake of a permanent solution to the protracted Rohingya problem.
In a bid to seek expeditious global efforts to repatriate Rohingyas, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to float new specific proposals at the UN General Assembly in New York. She is expected to address the safety and freedom of movement of Rohingyas in Rakhine. Nearly 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after the August 2017 military crackdown at Rakhine State with the help of local Buddhists, which the UN termed as ‘ethnic cleaning. Bangladesh is now home to more than 1.1 million Rohingyas after the latest exodus, many of whom refuse to go back, fearing more violence. A UN fact-finding mission recently claimed that the Rohingyas who still remain inside Myanmar face systematic persecution and are living under the threat of genocide, repeating its calls for top generals to face trial.
Bangladesh will raise the Rohingya issue at the upcoming UN general assembly with added importance and there will be meetings with like-minded nations to find out a solution to the crisis. At all bilateral meetings of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the issue will be raised. In addition, there will be tripartite meetings involving Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Five programmes are supposed to be held in New York on the Rohingya issue and Bangladesh is being directly and indirectly helped by Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Saudi Arabia and European Union. But gaining proper support in this case will depend upon the representation of Bangladesh Prime Minister.
On September 23, the prime minister was scheduled to co-chair the Multi-stakeholder Panel to be held in parallel to the High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage at ECOSOC Chamber. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will also attend as Co-chair. The theme of the panel is UHC as driver of equity, inclusive development and prosperity for all. Bangladesh is supposed to bring initiatives like; community clinic under limelight as it will project our competitiveness in the area of ensuring public health despite being economically and demographically challenged. Being an important part of SDG, public health is a critical factor for Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina might deliver national statement at the plenary session of the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage at the Trusteeship Council, deliver a statement at the Climate Action Summit on the theme ‘Climate Action Summit 2019: A Race We Can Win: A Race We Must Win’ at General Assembly Hall and attend Recognizing Political Leadership for Immunization in Bangladesh organized by GAVI in the UN headquarters. She has been very vocal in issues like global climate and environmental preservation. Her opinions are greatly received by the global leaders. Her contribution in putting Bangladesh on the roads of progress from a least developed country to a developing country and promoting Bangladesh to a middle income country has took her in a place of great importance.
Sheikh Hasina’s role in containing and eliminating terrorism from the Bangladeshi soil had also attained great acclamation. Terrorist groups had spread their black claws in Bangladesh using the name of religion and took away many lives on different instances. But she declared ‘War on Terror’ and zero tolerance against this curse. Her strict policy helped uprooting terrorism from Bangladesh. Though there are still some underground terrorists but the organizational structures were completely torn apart. The global leaders who pursue global peace really appreciated her drastic actions along with global citizens.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in the list of most influential and powerful leaders of the world. Nigeria’s most influential newspaper The Daily Leadership has termed Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as one of the most austere leaders of the world. She has been ranked 26th in 2018’s Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Bangladeshi Prime Minister also has been included in the Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2018. The four-time prime minister has been named among the 10 top global thinkers in the ‘Defense and Security’ category. She has made the list of top 100 global thinkers by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine. All these recognitions are due to her strong leadership and insights which did not remain bound inside the national boundary.
Not only the case of Rohingya people but also many other incidents around the world is based on non-secular emotions. Like the current incidents of Jammu and Kashmir and Assam in India, China, USA and many other places. Upholding one’s religious beliefs has become very difficult in today’s context. People are being tortured at different parts of the world due to their religions or ethnicity.
Especially, this torture and brutality is mostly concentrated on the Muslims. The world is moving towards a position when ethnic brutality can create huge chaos and even great wars. The Second World War was based on ethnic conflicts and it is not very far that the third world war might hit us based on the same ground. No oppressor could achieve or sustain victory over religious or ethnic grounds and certainly it will not in the future.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina should address the ethnic or religious oppression not only in Myanmar but also in any part of the world. She has a great reputation for ensuring secular practices in Bangladesh despite being a Muslim majority country. People from any religion or ethnicity can live securely in Bangladesh. She must promote the same ideology in the global forum. She should raise her voice against such state-sponsored terrorism which takes away people’s right to live on their own soil.
Without global, regional and national peace and harmony, a country or region or the world itself cannot prosper. Human kind has prospered a lot and we cannot go back to barbaric practices. Regional conflicts are being perceived today which can take different regions particularly South Asia a lot behind the progressing world.
Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who first gave speech in Bengali at UNGA in 1974. He always talked about world order and humanity. While writing and signing the constitution of independent Bangladesh, he did not term the new nation as a ‘Muslim’ country though it is heavily Muslim majority. Secularism and religious harmony has been the greatest feature of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu and Sheikh Hasina and hopefully the leaders who do not believe in secular and non-ethnic practice can learn from them.
Being the Prime minister of Bangladesh for consecutive third term, Sheikh Hasina implemented and initiated many plans for national progress and development. She has continuously tried to contribute in addressing global issues. We hope she will focus on global harmony and people’s rights to live free. Global harmony, regional serenity and human rights should be the highlights of her speech on September 27. We also hope she will present her speech in Bengali, which her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman initiated as this will strengthen our pledge to include Bengali as an official language if UN. We know the world will eye on her speech in UNGA and await the impact.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)