Bangladesh to verify Myanmar’s claim of ‘voluntary’ Rohingya repatriation

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Dhaka, October 31: Bangladesh will verify Myanmar’s claim of “voluntary nature” of some Rohingyas to Myanmar as it keeps “spreading misleading information” to the international community to avoid repatriation though record says no Rohingya is taken back.Sources at the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s (RRRC) office say they are not aware of such voluntary return.

“We’ll issue a press statement after verifying the claim,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Thursday.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who have fled their homeland in Rakhine State after being persecuted by their own country.

Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years.

Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar “failed to remove trust deficit” among the Rohingyas and there was “lack of conducive environment” in Rakhine for their return.

The Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka in a Facebook post claimed 46 displaced people returned to Myanmar from Bangladesh on their own volition through Taung Pyo Letwe and Nga Khu Ya Reception Centers on Thursday.

Myanmar claimed that the returnees were warmly received by officials from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, and Ministry of Labour, Population and Immigration, and other officials concerned.

Myanmar also claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar till date and they were duly provided with rice, cooking oil and foodstuff monthly by its Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

Asked about possible relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char from November 15, the Foreign Minister said he does not have any information on that specific date as he just returned home on Wednesday, wrapping up his Europe tour.

“It’s good if they go (to Bhashan Char). I’ll be very happy,” he said in a separate briefing at his office.

Asked about his talks over Rohingya issue during the Europe tour, Dr Momen said he urged European countries to halt the GSP trade privilege to Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis.

“Let there be a moratorium with a condition that it’ll be withdrawn once the Rohigyas return to Myanmar. Then there would be a pressure (on Myanmar),” said the Foreign Minister who visited Germany, Italy, Greece, and France apart from attending NAM Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan.

He conveyed the European countries that it looks odd that the countries which always talk about human rights and humanitarian issues are doing business and giving the GSP privilege to the country that committed genocide and ethnic cleansing as described by the EU and the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Bangladesh accused Myanmar of remaining engaged in a “persistent campaign” to mislead the international community to avoid its obligations for “sustained repatriation” and reintegration of the Rohingyas.

Dhaka also rejected “baseless accusations, falsification, and misrepresentation of facts” by Nay Pyi Taw, and urged it to stop concocted campaign and concentrate on the fulfillment of its obligations.

“Myanmar must act decisively to address the real causes that are preventing the displaced Rohingya from going back voluntarily,” said the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said it was a “matter of utter dismay” to witness such tenacious campaign with fabricated information, misrepresentation of facts, unsubstantiated claims and undue accusations on part of Myanmar to mislead the international community.

Bangladesh said Myanmar should seriously consider a comprehensive participation of the international community in creating conducive environment for the return as well as in the monitoring of repatriation and reintegration process.

“Myanmar should also cooperate with the international community to eliminate the culture of impunity for the sake of a durable solution to the protracted problem,” the Foreign Ministry said.