Analysis & Opinions
Following a bilateral repatriation agreement signed in November 2017, Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh officials held meetings in Dhaka on 30 and 31st October consecutively and announced Rohingya’s repatriation in coming November, despite of Rohingya’s repeated denial.
According to Burmese officials the repatriation which will begin on 15th November 2018, will take back 150 Rohingya per week at the Nappura (Nga Khu Ya) reception center and will be kept there for 3 days. In those 3 days they will be interrogated to know their place of origin and will be transferred to the Hla Poe Kaung transit camp.
From there Rohingya will be either taken to their village or a place nearby to their village, where concentration camps are being kept ready for them, according to a Rohingya who attended the meeting with the Burmese delegates in the makeshift camps of Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.
To justify this invalid repatriation, visiting Burmese representatives to Bangladesh said they had developed a “very concrete plan” to begin repatriations with the first round to include 2,260 Rohingya from 485 families.
Earlier Bangladesh officials said they provided Burma with a second list for verification of more than 22,000 Rohingya’s names and addresses.
“The names on the list we prepared were not chosen because they particularly wanted to go back,” Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and rehabilitation commissioner, told Human Rights Watch.
Burmese officials’ so called concrete plan also includes enforcing of the National Verification Card (NVC) to the returning Rohingya with fake assurance of freedom of movement and livelihood.
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“They (Burmese delegate) said Rohingya will be freely allowed to travel anywhere with those NVC and they will also facilitate us to do business. These fake promises they have given us several times in other repatriations as well, so this time we will not allow ourselves to be deceived once again,” says a Rohingya from Kutupalong makeshift camps, who also attended the meeting.
At the end of the meeting Rohingya were seen to be demanding their deserved rights including Native Status, Citizenship, Repatriation to their original place with International protection and peace keeping force as well along with them at the time of return.
In response to Rohingya’s demands, delegation members did not answer anything. After repeated questions on international protection and peace keeping force, a delegation representative said they will discuss it with their higher authorities and answer them later.
In demand of their International protection and peace keeping force in repatriation process, a group of more than 200 Rohingya at Kutupalong makeshift camp were seen in a protest on the visiting day of the Burmese delegations in the camps.
Read more on the Protest:
Burma-Bangladesh immediate plan of Rohingya repatriation have alarmed the humanitarian organizations and they were seen in immediate response, disagreements and rejections to this apartheid repatriation.
On 2nd November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments should immediately suspend the proposed repatriation of Rohingya refugees set for mid-November.
The UN has also opposed the proposal as “rushed and premature” and a UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic said, “Because we consider that conditions in Rakhine state are not yet conducive for voluntary return in the conditions of safety, dignity and sustainability, UNHCR will not, at this stage, facilitate any refugee returns to Rakhine state,” in an interview with Voice of America.
Further, reports from the agency this week also confirms that it “was not involved in preparation, transmission or receipt of this list nor in the verification and clearing that was reportedly carried out by the government of Myanmar.”
In response to Burma-Bangladesh dramatic stance of repatriation, Refugee rights director, Bill Frelick stated that “Myanmar’s government keeps talking about returns, but it has done nothing to allay the Rohingya’s fears of being returned to the same violence and oppression they fled,”
For the Bangladesh side he added “If Bangladesh moves forward on repatriations without the UN, it will squander the international goodwill it has accrued over the past year as a host to Rohingya refugees.”
Mr Stéphane Dujarric, a UN spokesman, told reporters this week that conditions “are not yet conducive for a return”, and that refugees continue to flee across the border into Bangladesh.
[Rohingya men and women attending meeting with Burmese delegations on 31st October 2018. Image: RVISION TV]
Besides humanitarians, several other lawmakers and parliamentarians too commented on this risky return.
“This is a poorly thought-out plan,” said Mr Charles Santiago, head of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights.
“They were still licking their wounds, they are still living in fear,” said Mr Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker who led a fact-finding mission early this year to refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazaar district.
Earlier In June, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and UN Development Programme signed a memorandum of understanding with Burma (Myanmar) to facilitate returns.
Although UN and UNDP was involved, this time Bangladesh and Burmese officials excluded consultation with UNHCR and the suffering Rohingya themselves, to push them once again towards death.
Last month a report from UN fact finding mission clearly proved Burmese military’s “genocidal intent” in the genocidal crimes committed on the Rohingya and called for several military leaders to be prosecuted, which Burma immediately rejected and now fearlessly announced of immediate repatriation.
“Our killing are confirmed, if we go back with international protection and UN peace keeping force,” said a Rohingya out of fear in the protest held on 31st October 2018.
This Rohingya repatriation became a litmus test for the presence of humanity on the surface of the earth and whether Rohingya would able to resist this repatriation or fail, entering the death cage of Burmese government once again?
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