Myanmar on Monday proposed to take back her nationals who fled to Bangladesh only after October last year as more Rohingyas still continued to cross the border from that country.
Kyaw Tint Swe, minister of Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s office, placed the proposal at a meeting with Bangladesh side in Dhaka, foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali told journalists.
The Myanmar side, at the outset of the meeting, proposed that they would take back Myanmar nationals who fled to Bangladesh only after October last year and subject to verification of nationality, officials said. Myanmar also agreed to repatriate only 2,415 registered refugees as verification of their nationality was completed earlier.
Bangladesh, on the contrary, demanded for return of all of over 9,00,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals who crossed the borders over decades, they said.
Over 5,07,000 people of minority Rohingya community, mostly Muslims, fled indiscriminate murder, rape and arson by Myanmar security forces and religious bigots in Rakhine state till Sunday since August 25, according to UN agencies. At least 87,000 people of the same community entered Bangladesh from the same area from October 9, 2016,
to July this year.
With recent influx, presence of Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh increased to about 9,25,000, including about 33,000 registered refugees, over three decades.
Bangladesh handed over to the Myanmar side a draft of an agreement seeking detailed verification of the victims and their children and a comprehensive plan for sustainable return to their home in Rakhine state.
The two sides agreed to form a working group, possibly at the level of senior government officials, at the earliest for supervision of the process of return.
When asked if the two sides talked about any timeframe for completion of the process of return, foreign minister Ali said the two sides have started a process and Bangladesh ‘wants a peaceful resolution’ of the crisis.
Asked if there would be any international monitoring on return of Myanmar nationals, officials said Myanmar ‘is unwilling so far’ to involve the UNHCR and International Organisation for Migration in the process. They might not have any objection about involving International Committee of the Red Cross.
‘The matter of UN involvement in the process does not come,’ the foreign minister said.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has made a commitment, in her recent statement for diplomatic corps, for implementation of the final report of the Kofi Annan Commission on Rohingya situation, Ali said.
The two sides also have discussed about border management and security cooperation and the Bangladesh side expressed the country’s zero tolerance policy on terrorism, he said.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who was present in the meeting, would visit Myanmar soon to discuss border management and security issues, Ali said.
Several thousand Rohingya people were murdered in violence in Rakhine of Myanmar and at least 133 persons died in boat capsize during their journey to safety in Bangladesh.
The UN and other international community demanded to Myanmar for immediate end of violence in Rakhine, as the UN secretary general António Guterres described it the world’s fastest developing ‘humanitarian and human rights nightmare’, the UN rights agency described it ethnic cleansing and Amnesty International said it was crimes against humanity.
Successive Myanmar governments have effectively denied citizenship of the Muslim-majority Rohingya community by changing laws, keeping the community out of the list of ethnic minorities and stopping their inclusion in census and documentation of nationality over the years.
Principal secretary Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque and Bangladesh ambassador to Myanmar Mohammad Sufiur Rahman, among others, were present on the Bangladesh side.
Later in the evening, national taskforce on Rohingyas took stock, in a meeting chaired by foreign secretary Haque, of providing shelter, food, medication and water and sanitation services for newly arrived Myanmar nationals.
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