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24 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Rohingya crisis

Repatriation unfeasible ‘without favourable environment’

HARUN UR RASHID, Dhaka
Repatriation unfeasible ‘without favourable environment’
Rohingya people renovate makeshift houses at Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia upazila of Cox’s Bazar yesterday, a day after the failed attempt to start repatriation to their homeland-- Rakhine state of Myanmar. AFP photo

Rohingya repatriation would not be possible without creating a favourable environment and guaranteeing citizenship to the displaced persons in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, say experts. They say the repatriation of such a huge number of Rohingya people would not be possible if preparations are made in a cursory manner without paying adequate attention to the voices of the Rohingya people. They maintained that Bangladesh was swayed by Myanmar’s assurances, fearing international criticism if it did not make preparations for repatriation on August 22. Myanmar, according to the experts, wanted to garner some benefits from the first round of repatriation at the United Nations General Assembly. But they said the international bodies were aware of Myanmar’s ploy.

Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor of International Relations, Dhaka University, told The Independent yesterday: “Myanmar told Bangladesh to make preparations for the repatriation. But they have not created any conducive and safe environment yet.” “The demands of the Rohingya people are valid. They want citizenship and safe return. If Myanmar amends its citizenship laws to guarantee the rights of these persecuted people, they will go back voluntarily,” he added.

Asked about whether Myanmar will try to gain benefits at the United Nations General Assembly out of this ‘scheduled’ repatriation, he said, “Myanmar knew that they might face a huge pressure at the UNGA. They will try to tell the world community

that they tried for the repatriation but the Rohingyas did not come back.”

He added, “The international community is not so foolish as not to under

stand Myamnar’s intention. If new laws are brought giving citizenship, the Rohingyas will leave voluntarily.”

 Imtiaz, also director of the Centre for Genocide Studies at Dhaka University, said Bangladesh should take more concrete steps before responding to Myanmar’s repatriation overtures.

The second attempt at Rohingya repatriation failed on August 22, though the Bangladesh side and the UNHCR had made adequate preparations.

The repatriation process was thwarted as the Rohingyas did not respond to the call of the authorities. They demanded citizenship rights and security assurance before repatriation.

Meanwhile, it is going to be three years on August 25 of the Rohingya influx, which started on the same day in 2017.

The day will also be observed as ‘Genocide Day’ as declared by the Rohingyas because of the atrocities inflicted on them by the Myanmar Army.

On the other hand, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told journalists after a programme in the capital that Bangladesh would try to make Myanmar and the international community agree through tough steps to start the repatriation.

“We have listened to the international community. We have done everything possible on humanitarian grounds. Now it’s the responsibility of Myanmar and the international community to create an environment conducive to their return,” he added.

The minister further said China, Russia, Vietnam and India have lent support in this regard.

He said, “We would urge the international community to visit Myanmar. A commission can be formed in this regard. All these bodies should visit Myanmar to create a safe and favourable environment in Myanmar for their return.”

Momen also said, “If the bodies are not allowed to enter Myanmar, how do they do business there. Myanmar gets GSP facilities in USA. I would say the United States has made some mistakes on the Rohingya issue. Now everybody has to think afresh.” Drawing attention to Myanmar, the foreign minister said Myanmar must create trust among its people. “It’s the duty of Myanmar.

We have done enough. The Rohingyas should leave for the sake of stability in this region.” Regarding the Rohingya repatriation, he said the efforts would continue.

Earlier, Commissioner of Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) Abul Kalam had told The Independent on Thursday: “We would carry out the interview of the Rohingyas who are on the list provided by Myanmar. If any Rohingya wants to go back, we will carry it out.”

Myanmar handed over a list of 3,540 Rohingyas to the Bangladesh government for taking preparation for the repatriation but it did not see the light of day. The first attempt at repatriation was made on November 15, 2018 but the exercise was halted because the Rohingyas refused to go back, expressing doubts about their safety and dignified return. But this time, they want the guarantee of citizenship before they go back.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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