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British MP George Foulkes: ‘What’s happening with the Rohingya is genocide’

British Member of Parliament George Foulkes (Photo: Dhaka Tribune)

By Shovel Mamun, Ashif Islam Shaon
November 12, 2017

Shovel Mamun and Ashif Islam Shaon of Dhaka Tribune speaks with British Member of Parliament George Foulkes

He discussed the upcoming Bangladesh general election in 2019 and the Rohingya crisis. Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock PC is a British Labour Co-operative life peer. He has been a member of the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and as a life peer is now a member of the House of Lords.

What could Commonwealth countries do to solve the Rohingya problem?

Bangladesh has done a lot better than a lot of countries with the Rohingya crisis. Both the people and the government of Bangladesh should be congratulated for their sincere efforts. We want to help Bangladesh and are making every effort to ensure CAP countries are beside Bangladesh to help solve this problem. Every country should put pressure on Myanmar to address their responsibilities.

My hope is that the Rohingya problem is resolved quickly. But things as they are, Bangladesh is a developing country and is faced with far more complications than other developed countries. Britain along with other countries has started to provide funds and assistance to the Bangladeshi government to aid in the effort.

We will raise the Rohingya issue in our parliament to find an effective solution.

Do you think there is a bilateral solution to this problem?

There is a need to have a bilateral agreement between the countries on this issue and Bangladesh needs support from other countries such as the UK. If there is commitment from the global community, it is possible to find a bilateral solution.

In your opinion, do you think Myanmar government has been delaying their efforts to find a solution?

Yes they are. This is genocide. British media has broadcasted reports of Myanmar army torturing the Rohingya people. Every country has a responsibility to pressurise the Myanmar government to find an effective solution quickly.

What are your thoughts on the polls for the upcoming Bangladeshi elections?

Great Britain has been practicing democracy for a very long time. I visited Bangladesh in 1991 during national elections and at the time, all parties, including BNP and Awami league, participated in what I felt was a free and fair electoral process.

However, in the previous election many questions were raised and phrases like “one party election” were being thrown around. My hope is that all parties will come together and participate in the upcoming national elections because in the end, democracy doesn’t work without participation.

What are some challenges in a democracy?

There are a lot of challenges. Take Russia for instance who are said to have influenced the recent US Polls by using social media. Fabricating news to influence the outcome of an election is a global issue and Bangladesh is no exception.

There is however, a difference between developed countries and developing countries such as Bangladesh. In the US, people are able to go and vote freely in a safe and secure polling station that are monitored and where vote rigging is not possible. While the economy of Bangladesh is rising, it is still developing and that brings its own set of challenges.

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