Bangladeshi officials at a meeting in Dhaka on Thursday urged Myanmar to hand over a ‘specific list’ of members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, if any, staying in Bangladesh territory.
At the meeting of the joint working group on Rohingya repatriation, the Myanmar side raised the issue of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and Bangladesh officials asserted that there was no existence of members of the group in Bangladesh territory, said a Bangladesh official attending the meeting.
Myanmar officials argued that they found a number of news reports that members of the group were living in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh officials replied that many Rohingyas wanted to brand their fellows as members of the group out of their previous enmity.
A Bangladesh official told Myanmar delegation that if they had any specific information, a list should be handed over to Bangladesh so that they could be identified.
‘They are convinced of our position and we will work together to identify ARSA members, if any,’ the official stated.
A 15-member delegation from both countries attended the meeting to discuss the physical repatriation of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh fleeing violence and persecution in Rakhine State.
Emerging from the meeting, Myanmar foreign affairs ministry permanent secretary Myint Thu said that they had a candid meeting.
Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque led the 15-member team from Bangladesh.
At a bilateral meeting in China in September 2017 on the sideline of 86th Interpol General Assembly, Myanmar handed over a list of about 200 members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army members and sought information from the then Bangladesh police inspector general Shahidul Hoque.
Bangladesh police had engaged its counter terrorism officials to verify allegation.
Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, also known by its former name Harakah al-Yaqin, is a Rohingya group active in northern Rakhine State of Myanmar. According to a December 2016 report of the International Crisis Group, it is led by Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi, a Rohingya man born in Karachi in Pakistan and grew up in Makkah in Saudi Arabia.
Myanmar’s Anti-Terrorism Central Committee declared it a terrorist group on August 25, 2017 while the group released a statement on August 28, 2017, terming allegations against it baseless and saying that its main purpose was to defend the rights of Rohingyas.
About 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing, beginning from August 25, 2017.
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