Asia - Pacific

Bangladesh urges continued pressure on Myanmar

Myanmar authorities not willing to take back Rohingya refugees, experts believe

Ekip   | 30.10.2017
Bangladesh urges continued pressure on Myanmar

Dhaka

By Mutasim Billah

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladeshi home minister has called for continued diplomatic pressure on Myanmar to ensure repatriation of Rohingya refugees.

Since Aug. 25, over 607,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

"If the international pressure drops, Myanmar will not do anything [for Rohingya’s return]," Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Bangladeshi home minister, told Anadolu Agency.

"If the Rohingya people could not go back, they have a bleak future," the minister said, adding that his government is making efforts to ensure safe return of the Myanmar’s minority Muslim community.

A 12-member Bangladeshi delegation led by the home minister visited Myanmar on Oct. 23 to discuss Rohingya repatriation process.

During the visit, the two countries signed memoranda of understanding on improved border cooperation between the neighbors, including frontier liaison offices.

"The repatriation of those who fled to Bangladesh still needs further negotiations…," Tin Myint, Myanmar’s permanent secretary for home affairs, told Anadolu Agency. 

Turkey's role

M Sakhawat Hussain, a security analyst, questioned the sincerity of Myanmar authorities. “Myanmar attended bilateral talks with Bangladesh just for the international media consumption.”

Praising the role of Turkey in highlighting the issue of Rohingya, Hussain suggested that there is a need to involve member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, especially Saudi Arabia, to put pressure on Myanmar authorities.

Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.

Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Refugee and Migration analyst and a professor of International Relations at University of Dhaka, told Anadolu Agency: "If we do not raise our voice at international level, Myanmar will continue to procrastinate the repatriation process.

"Nothing will come out of the bilateral talks. It may continue but we need to internationalize the issue," he added.

He suggested Bangladesh should send its delegations to China, India and ASEAN member states to convince them to pressure Myanmar so the repatriation of the Rohingya begins as soon as possible.”

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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