The government on Thursday demanded that Myanmar must repatriate all of its undocumented nationals and registered refugees from Bangladesh.
The government raised the demand in a note verbale handed over to the Myanmar ambassador to Dhaka, Myo Myint Than.
Twenty two international dignitaries, including 13 Nobel Laureates, urged the international community including the United Nations to play role in ending the human crisis of Rohingyas with lifting of all restrictions on humanitarian aid in Rakhine State.
‘A human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity is unfolding in Myanmar,’ they said in an open letter sent to the UN Security Council president and member countries of the council on Thursday.
Ambassador Myo Myint Than was called to meet the foreign ministry secretary (bilateral and consular) Kamrul Ahsan.
‘We have requested Myanmar to repatriate all of its undocumented nationals and registered refugees from Bangladesh,’ Kamrul Ahsan told New Age at his office after the meeting with the ambassador.
He told the ambassador that about 50,000 Myanmar citizens took shelter in Bangladesh since October 9.
About 3,00,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals and about 33,000 registered refugees have been staying in Bangladesh for years, the ambassador was told.
Kamrul Ahsan expressed Bangladesh’s readiness to engage with Myanmar to discuss the process and modalities of repatriation to Myanmar.
He expressed deep concern over the continued influx of Muslims from the Rakhine State of Myanmar into Bangladesh.
He also requested the Myanmar government to urgently address the ‘root cause’ of the problem in the Rakhine State so that Rakhine Muslims were not required to desperately seek shelter across the border.
The ambassador said that he would convey the Myanmar government the issues raised by the Bangladesh side, officials said.
He said the Myanmar government might send a special envoy to discuss bilateral issues with Bangladesh.
The 22 dignitaries said in the open letter that a Myanmar Army offensive in the Rakhine State led to the killing of hundreds of Rohingyas over the past two months. Over 30,000 people were displaced. Houses were burned, women raped, many civilians arbitrarily arrested, and children killed.
Crucially, they said, access for humanitarian aid organisations were almost completely denied, creating an appalling humanitarian crisis in an area already extremely poor.
Thousands fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, only to be sent back, they observed.
Some international experts warned of the potential for genocide with all the hallmarks of recent past tragedies in Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia and Kosovo, they said.
They also observed that the Rohingyas were denied of Myanmar citizenship despite living in the country for generations.
They expressed frustration that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi did not take any initiative, despite repeated appeals from international communities, to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas.
They also demanded an independent and international inquiry to establish the truth about the current situation.
Signatories to the letter to the UN were, among others, Nobel Laureates Malala Yousafzai, José Ramos-Horta, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus, Shirin Ebadi, Betty Williams, Tawakkol Karman, Richard J Roberts, Elizabeth Blackburn, Leymah Gbowee, Oscar Arias, Máiread Maguire and Jody Williams, and The Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington.
New Age correspondent in Cox’s Bazar reported that at least 600 Muslims from Rakhine State of Myanmar entered Bangladesh Thursday morning.
About 500 people of 40 families reached Kutupalang makeshift camp of Ukhiya upazila in Cox’s Bazar, officials said.
Another 100 Rohingyas reached the makeshift settlement camp at Leda of Teknaf in the district.
The 34 Battalion of the Border Guard Bangladesh prevented 76 Rohingyas, mostly women and children, from crossing the border, according to border guard official Imran Ullha Sarkar.
The government decided to distribute relief, collected from the government and other sources, among newly arrived Rohingyas through official channels.
The government would not allow any non-government organisation or religious group to distribute relief among the Rohingyas at Kutupalang, Leda and Shamlapour of Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas, Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Ali Hossain said.
Northern Rakhine State, home to the Muslim Rohingya minority, has been under military lockdown since nine police were killed in attacks on guard posts along borders with Bangladesh on October 9.
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