POST TIME: 19 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Myanmar ‘playing foul’

Myanmar ‘playing foul’

Myanmar keeps on playing foul with regards to the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, as it is talking about readiness to take back its people, but apparently doing nothing to halt the influx or end the violence against the world’s most persecuted community, multiple sources have told The Independent. Bangladesh’s second neighbour is taking ‘an upper hand’ on the face of the globe by repeatedly expressing its willingness to take back the Rohingyas, they said, adding that the recent visit of the home minister of Myanmar is nothing but ‘eyewash’.

But, the sources said that the international community appears to be not concentrating enough on the Myanmar’s apparent double standard. And, they said that the Bangladesh authorities seem to be doing not enough to let the world know about Myanmar’s ‘bad intention’.

The sources further said that people are still coming and along some parts of the border the Myanmar security forces are shooting in the air and asking Rohingyas not to return. On top of that, violence against the small number of Rohingyas, who are still in Rakhine against all odds, is still going on.

But, they added that the repatriation agreement signed between Dhaka and Naypyitaw on November 23 clearly states that the Myanmar authorities will immediately halt the influx of Rohingyas and create a favourable environment for the returnees.

“Look, we all know what the real thing on the ground is. As we speak, people are coming to escape the violence over there,” Abul Kalam, chief of Relief, Refugee and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) based in Cox’s Bazar, told this correspondent yesterday.

“It is understandable that it is very difficult to begin the repatriation in this situation. But, despite this, we will have keep trying as there is no alternative to making the best effort to send these people back to their homes in Rakhine,” he said.

“It’s really an unbelievable scenario. On one side, Rohingyas are still arriving. On the other side, you are starting a process of sending them back,” said another government official familiar with the repatriation process.

“If you ask me, I would say that a huge pressure will have to be mounted on the Myanmar government to respect the bilateral agreement signed on November 23 and implement the recommendations of the Annan commission,” he said.

“But, the international community does not appear to be hard enough on Myanmar. And, I think our government should do much more to mobilise the support of the international community for it to put pressure that will bring effective changes in the Rakhine State,” he added.

“We have credible reports that

Myanmar security forces from their border are shooting in the air and telling Rohingyas on the Bangladesh side not to return.

The Rohingyas are being told that they belong where you are now,” said an official of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), who requested anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

When asked, the RRRC chief said, “I have heard about it.”

“If I talk about more that 7.5 lakh (750,000) Rohingyas, who had to flee their homes in Rakhine since August 25, the Myanmar security forces didn’t push them within a few weeks through indescribable brutalities only to take them back so easily. About the remaining 3.5 to 4 lakh (350,000 to 400,000) Rohingyas, who have been residing in our country for decades, no one knows when they will return,” said another senior official.

“To me, their expression of willingness including the one from the Myanmar home minister to take the Rohingyas back is nothing but a move just to score points.

They are showing the world that they are interested to take their people back,” he said.

“But, they are unlikely to create a conducive environment in Rakhine, and to be honest who will want to return in this kind of situation where there is no access of the international organisations and media to verify the conditions on the ground,” he added.

“I will only believe when I will see the first Rohingya return to Rakhine in a safe and dignified manner and there is a mechanism in place to ensure sustainability,” said the official.

The officials, however, admitted that despite all the difficulties, all-out efforts must be on to engage with Myanmar so that the problems can be solved. “We will have to keep on trying,” said RRRC chief Kalam.