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POST TIME: 10 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Immediate repatriation of Rohingyas most unlikely
HUMAYUN KABIR BHUIYAN

Immediate repatriation of Rohingyas most unlikely

Bangladesh is on the way to make arrangements to begin the repatriation soon despite knowing that persecuted Rohingyas will not agree to return to their homes in Rakhine as the Myanmar government has failed to create a favourable condition there to ensure safe, dignified and sustainable return, senior diplomats told The Independent yesterday. Dhaka is doing this to show the world Myanmar’s failure to create a conducive environment as it had pledged in the agreement signed with Bangladesh in November last year, they said, adding that any immediate repatriation is most unlikely.

On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told reporters at the National Defence College that 3,000 Rohingyas have been cleared by the Myanmar authorities and hopefully they will be sent back soon.

However, he did not mention any date.

The foreign secretary, Shahidul Haque, told newsmen yesterday after the maiden foreign office consultations between Bangladesh and Brunei at the state guest house Meghna that Myanmar is very eager to take back the Rohingyas and the repatriation will be expedited.

He did not mention any number or date for the beginning of the repatriation.

“Look, we have to respond to the propaganda Myanmar is carrying out. They are trying to say to the rest of the world that they are ready and it is Bangladesh who is not sending,” a top diplomat told this correspondent.

“What we will do is make arrangements and will talk to the Rohingyas to know if they want to go. Given the situation and in the absence of a favourable environment in Rakhine and non-settlement of their citizenship issue, Rohingyas are all but certain to opt for staying in Cox’s Bazar,” he said.

“This is how we are willing to show the world Myanmar’s ill intentions,” said the diplomat.   

However, he hastened to add, “Even if five Rohingyas express their willingness to return to their homes, we will begin repatriation with them.”

“More than nine months have passed since signing of the repatriation deal that states the repatriation should start within January 21, 2018. We are now in the eighth month, crossing the deadline. Does Myanmar seem to be ready to take back the Rohingyas? I don’t think so,” said another senior diplomat.

“What Myanmar is saying to the world audience is nothing but eyewash. We have to counter that,” he said. About the foreign minister’s optimism of beginning the repatriation soon with 3,000 people, another senior diplomat refused a direct comment, saying, “We have to remind ourselves that the main aspects of the repatriation are voluntariness, citizenship, safety and verifiable security. Do we have them?”

“It would be a miracle if the repatriation begins any time soon,” he said.

The diplomat further said, “Only a strong international meaningful pressure can twist Myanmar’s arms to force it to take its own people. I am yet to see any such pressure.”

To a question, he said that a prompt beginning of an investigation by The Hague-based International Criminal Court may compel Myanmar to create the right condition for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of persecuted Rohingyas.