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14 August, 2017 12:55:07 AM
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Rohingya, migration issues on agenda

POPE’S BANGLADESH VISIT
HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN
Rohingya, migration issues on agenda

Bangladesh will try to derive benefit from issues relating to Rohingya, migration and climate change from the visit of Pope Francis to Bangladesh which will take place between late November and early December. This will be the second visit of any pope, leader of the Catholic churches, to Bangladesh. John Paul II was the first pope to visit Bangladesh in 1986.

Given the worldwide influence of the pope, Dhaka is considering the visit as very important, officials concerned have told The Independent, adding that both Bangladesh and Vatican are working on the details of the visit to make it a success. A team from Vatican visited Dhaka last month to discuss the logistic issues while another advance team is due within days to finalise the agenda, they said.

“We are not in a position yet to announce the exact date due to security reasons. But, the three-day visit is all but certain to take place between the end of November and first of December,” said a senior official familiar with the preparations of the visit.

At that time, the pope will also visit Myanmar, Bangladesh’s second neighbour.

According to officials, the entire range of issues of mutual interest will be discussed during the visit of Francis, an Argentine and the 266th pope.

But, they said Bangladesh will try to benefit from the good office of the pope with regard to issues related to Rohingya, migration and climate change as the Catholic leader is passionate about these subjects.

In the past, Pope Francis condemned the maltreatment of Rohingyas and asked his followers to join him in praying for them.

“They have been suffering, they are being tortured and killed, simply because they uphold their Muslim faith,” he said in Rome in February.

About migrants, Francis described protecting them as a ‘moral imperative’ and said that it is everyone’s duty to defend the dignity of migrants.

On the issue of climate change, he called for implementation of global environmental agreements without delay.

The officials said Dhaka will project the plight of Rohingyas whom Bangladesh has been sheltering for decades and urge him to use his good office to try to address the protracted problem.

Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar at one go will ‘undoubtedly’ give him a better understanding of the issue, they said.

The officials said Bangladesh is currently under pressure from the Europeans to take back the ‘irregular Bangladeshis’ from their countries.

Dhaka will raise the issue with the pope and request him to ‘exert his influence’ so that the Europeans take the matter easily and Bangladesh gets a ‘breathing space’ before bringing back the migrants after completing the verification of their nationalities, they said.

Given the positive attitude of the pope regarding climate change, Bangladesh will seek his ‘help’ to get more help from wealthy and industrialised nations to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, said the officials.

The Bangladesh side will also highlight that people belonging to all religions including Christians, who account for 0.5 per cent of the country’s population, leave peacefully with equal rights.

“Bangladesh is a land of peace – this is the message we will convey to the world Catholic leader,” said an official.

Matters regarding combating terrorism and violent extremism and improvement of inter-faith relationship will also be discussed during the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, said the officials.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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