Rohingya return should be under int’l watch: experts

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Aug 19,2019


Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque and other dignitaries hold copies of a report on Rohingya influx in Bangladesh during a discussion organised by the Red and Green Research, an initiative of journalists, at BIISS auditorium in Dhaka on Sunday. — New Age photo

The international community should monitor the repatriation of Rohingya people of Myanmar from Bangladesh as the two governments and the UNHCR have launched preparations for the second attempt at their repatriation, experts said on Sunday.

‘The international community has to come forward for monitoring the repatriation of Rohingya people to Rakhine of Myanmar,’ former National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh chairman Professor Mizanur Rahman said at a dialogue on Rohingya crisis in Dhaka.  

Repatriation must be held after assessing voluntariness of the returnees, upholding their rights and ensuring their safety, dignity and livelihood in Myanmar, he said.

Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque, who was the chief guest at the function, said sustainable repatriation ‘is the peaceful solution’ of the Rohingya crisis and ‘behind-the-scene attempts are going on’ in this regard.

Admitting the engagement of the Bangladesh authorities with the UNHCR and the Myanmar authorities, he said, ‘In next couple of weeks we’ll engage Rohingya people to go back.’

‘If they don’t go back, they will be deprived of not only their land rights [in Rakhine], they might be deprived of all rights,’ Haque cautioned.

The foreign secretary also said that the Bangladesh government would continue to pursue the ‘justice and accountability aspects’ of the Rohingya crisis for atrocities committed against the Rohingya people.

Bangladesh, Myanmar and the UNHCR were working on the possibility of sending about 3,500 Rohingyas back to Rakhine.

Mizanur and former chairman of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies Munshi Faiz Ahmed were critical of the role of the international community in general, and that of India and China in particular, in supporting Bangladesh for sustainable solution of the Rohingya crisis.

Red and Green Research, a think tank, organised the discussion.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission executive director Kazi Ehsanur Rahman, Red and Green Research executive director Shahidul Islam Chowdhury and AM Nasir Uddin of ActionAid Bangladesh also spoke on the occasion, which was attended by several diplomats.

A delegation from Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) on Sunday separately called on foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque.

The ICOE team led by former Japanese ambassador Kenzo Oshima is expected to engage in the groundwork for the evidence collection and verification team in consultations with the Rohingya victims.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.

The latest Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

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