Myanmar should take a holistic approach for developing a comprehensive mechanism for sustainable repatriation of its nationals to their home in Rakhine State at the earliest, Bangladesh government told visiting Myanmar special envoy in a series of formal and informal meetings in Dhaka on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bangladesh also stressed the need for stopping the process of marginalisation of Muslims and go for establishing peace, security and ensuring livelihood in Rakhine State for regional stability, officials said.
Persistent recent influx and illegal presence of over 3,00,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals were creating destablising effect in Bangladesh, hampering stability and the process of development in Chittagong region where the prime seaport is located and in Cox’s Bazar, a major tourism hub, they said.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali and foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque conveyed these messages to the envoy, Kyaw Tin, in four meetings.
‘Take back your own people home’, an official quoted the prime minister having told the Myanmar envoy.
The envoy handed over to PM a letter from Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in which she expressed her intent to deepen cooperation with Bangladesh, officials said. ‘It was a routine letter’ as nothing exceptional was mentioned in it, an official said.
Sheikh Hasina, however, said her government would extend all cooperation to Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been leading a democratically elected government in Myanmar.
The Myanmar envoy said his country was ready to repatriate its citizens who recently [after October 9, 2016] entered into Bangladesh subject to verification of their citizenship. On this point, Bangladesh side proposed for pursuing a comprehensive verification process involving the international community for repatriation of all Myanmar nationals, as separate verification by the two governments might give conflicting claims about their nationality.
Foreign secretary Haque, in an informal breakfast meeting with the envoy at The Westin hotel, stressed the need for developing a comprehensive framework for repatriation.
Repatriation, without creating an atmosphere with ensuring safety and security of life and confirmed livelihood, would not sustain for long as the returnees might come back to Bangladesh again, officials said.
Foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali at a press conference on Wednesday said that the Bangladesh side proposed forming an appropriate body to verify the nationality and permanent citizenship of Muslims of Rakhine State who took shelter here over the years.
Both sides agreed for signing of two memorandums of understanding on security dialogue and cooperation and establishing border liaison office at the earliest for boosting security cooperation between the two countries, he said.
The fleeing of Rohingyas from northern Rakhine began after Myanmar’s army launched ‘clearance operations’ while searching for ‘insurgents’ following deadly raids on police border posts last October.
Escapees from the persecuted Muslim minority have given harrowing accounts of security forces committing mass rape, murders and arsons.
At least 65,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, a third of them over the past week, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the UN, said on Monday.
In a diplomatic memorandum handed over to Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka, Myo Myint, on December 29, 2016, Bangladesh demanded repatriation of about 50,000 Myanmar citizens who had entered into the country since October 9, 2016.
Kyaw Tin, who arrived on Tuesday on a three-day official visit, is due to leave Dhaka today.
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