Myanmar assures of early repatriation; indicates actions against law breakers


Dhaka, Apr 12: Myanmar Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Win Myat Aye on Thursday indicated taking actions against senior Myanmar military officials if they violate laws of the land to avoid repetition of atrocities in Rakhine Sate. “We are emphasizing to have rule of law. According to rule of law, we can take actions if they break the law,” he told reporters at a joint briefing at State guesthouse Padma in the evening assuring Rohingyas to give citizenship.

Earlier, he had a meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at the same venue that started at 6pm.

The Myanmar Minister said they have now new President in Myanmar who has declared clearly that they must have the rule of law in the country.

Earlier, a prosecutor from the international criminal court (ICC) has sought jurisdiction over the ‘deportation’ of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, with the aim of investigating and prosecuting those responsible.

In a filing published on Monday, the court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said, “This is not an abstract question but a concrete one, affecting whether the court may exercise jurisdiction … to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute.”

Minister Myat Aye said both the sides agreed on a verification form which will help overcome all the difficulties they are facing to start repatriation.

Responding to a question, he said, “I am very sure that we can start repatriation process as soon as possible.” Asked about specific date he said, “Very soon.”

Minister Myat Aye said he is here with three main purposes including to talk to Rohingyas in the camps and to discuss with Bangladesh authorities. “We can now overcome many difficulties we are facing.”

Asked about MoUs with UNHCR and UNDP, the Myanmar Minister said they will soon finalize the proposed MoUs and those will soon be signed to assist the repatriation process.

Responding to a question on citizenship of Rohingyas, he said Rohingyas will have to go through national verification process to get citizenship. “Now we are speeding up national verification process.”

Foreign Minister Ali said they had a very fruitful meeting and there is goodwill on the both sides.

In the meeting, he laid emphasis on rebuilding villages for the return of Rohingyas.

The Foreign Minister said returnees should not stay more than few days in transit camps.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Myanmar’s Peace Commission Member Prod Dr Aung Tun Thet also spoke at the briefing.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh and the UNHCR will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Geneva on Friday outlining for the safe and voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar.

The MoU is aimed at boosting cooperation between Bangladesh and the UN agency, officials said.

A seven-member Bangladesh delegation led by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque is already in Geneva to sign the MoU, an official told UNB.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on November 23, 2017. On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on ‘Physical Arrangement’ which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

The ‘Physical Arrangement’ stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.

Bangladesh currently has a Rohingya population, which is far more than Bhutan’s entire population.

Bhutan has around 800,000 people whereas Bangladesh had to give shelter to some 1.2 million Rohingyas.

Earlier on Wednesday, Myanmar Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister visited Rohingya camps amid protest.

This was first such visit by any Myanmar minister to the largest-ever refugee camps where some 700,000 Rohingyas have taken shelter since last August following an army crackdown in Rakhine. The United Nations has likened the Myanmar army’s crackdown to ethnic cleansing.

Though there have been high-level visits from Myanmar, no one of the visitors has visited the Rohingya camps to date.

The government will soon send the second list consisting of upto 10,000 names of Rohingyas to Myanmar as part of the repatriation process.

Bangladesh has already handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of the displaced people to their homeland in Rakhine but there is no sign of their repatriation yet.

Source: UNB