Myanmar to talk Rohingya repatriation with Bangladesh
by Anadolu Agency
YANGONJan 09, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Jan 09, 2017 12:00 am
Myanmar is preparing to send a diplomatic team to Bangladesh to discuss the growing political headache of what to do with the thousands of its nationals Dhaka claims have fled across the border to escape continuing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State.
On Saturday, the deputy director general at Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aye Aye Soe, told Anadolu Agency that the team is scheduled to visit Bangladesh's capital this month.
"We haven't decided the exact date. It depends on the availability of the Bangladesh officials," she said, adding that the team will be led by Myanmar's deputy foreign minister. "The discussion will focus on Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh."
Dhaka has said that around 50,000 Myanmar "citizens" have taken shelter in Bangladesh since the military orchestrated a clampdown in predominantly Rohingya Muslim areas following the Oct. 9 attacks on police outposts in which nine officers died.
In the ensuing clampdown, aid agencies and independent journalists have been denied access to the area, and at least 101 people, 17 police and soldiers, eight Muslim men working closely with the local authority, and 76 alleged "attackers" (including six who reportedly died during interrogation) have now been killed.
More than 600 people have also been detained for their alleged involvement in the attacks.
Rohingya advocacy groups, however, claim around 400 Rohingya, described by the United Nations as among the most persecuted groups worldwide, were killed in the military operations, women were raped and more than 1,000 Rohingya villages torched.
Bangladesh has also demanded Myanmar take back around 300,000 of its "nationals" that have been in Bangladesh for years, many of them living in refugee camps in the Cox's Bazar area.
Complicating the issue is that Myanmar does not categorize Rohingya as its citizens, instead referring to them as "Bengali" which suggests they are stateless interlopers from their neighbor. Most of those who have fled are understood to be Rohingya.
Last month, Myanmar's government said that it would take back 2,415 people from the tens of thousands of its citizens Bangladesh has said has crossed the border.
"These people  were already verified as Myanmar citizens," said Aye Aye Soe.
She underlined that only those who have been verified as Myanmar nationals will be repatriated.
As Bangladesh prepares for negotiations, tensions have not been helped by the sinking of a Bangladesh fishing boat in its own waters on Dec. 27.
Bangladesh has said that said four fishermen were injured after a Myanmar navy ship attacked. Myanmar, however, denies any such attack by its navy took place.
A law passed in Myanmar in 1982 denies Rohingya, many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations, citizenship, making them stateless.
The law denies Rohingya rights to Myanmar nationality, removes their freedom of movement, access to education and services, and allows arbitrary confiscation of property.
Myanmar nationalists have since taken to referring to the Rohingya, which the United Nations calls one of the most persecuted people in the world, as Bengali, which suggests they are not Myanmar nationals but interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.
Rohingya have fled Myanmar in droves for decades, with a new wave of migrations occurring since mid-2012 after communal violence broke out.