Take back Rohingyas | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:31 AM, January 12, 2017

Take back Rohingyas

PM asks Myanmar; visiting special envoy hands over Suu Kyi's letter to Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday renewed her call for Myanmar to take back its nationals from Bangladesh.

She made the call when visiting Myanmar State Minister for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin met her at the Gono Bhaban in the evening, reports UNB.

The PM said the two countries can permanently resolve the refugee problem through discussions.

During the meeting, U Kyaw Tin handed over a letter of Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to the PM.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said the premier reiterated Bangladesh's “zero tolerance” policy against terrorism.

“Bangladesh doesn't allow any armed insurgent group to use its territory against any of its neighbours,” the press secretary quoted Hasina as saying.

Expressing satisfaction over the existing ties between the two countries, she said Bangladesh values its relations with the neighbours. “I'll do whatever is necessary for further strengthening the ties with Myanmar,” she added.

Highlighting Bangladesh's stunning socioeconomic development, the PM said Myanmar can learn from its experience in this regard.

She invited Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Bangladesh.

The Myanmar state minister laid emphasis on setting up a border liaison office. He also stressed the need for exchanging information between the border forces of the two countries.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Principal Secretary to the PM Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka U Myo Myint Than were present.

MEETING WITH FM

Earlier in the afternoon, U Kyaw Tin had a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh foreign ministry officials at the State Guest House Padma.

Expressing deep concern at the continued influx of Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine state, Dhaka at the meeting asked Naypyidaw to immediately halt the exodus of Rohingyas and repatriate all the Myanmar citizens staying in Bangladesh for years, reports our diplomatic correspondent.

Dhaka also expressed readiness to engage with Naypyidaw to discuss the process and modalities of repatriation to ensure a sustainable solution to the problem facing the Muslims in Rakhine.

U Kyaw Tin, also the special envoy of Aung San Suu Kyi, led a three-member Myanmar delegation to the meeting while the Bangladesh side was led by the foreign minister.

The Myanmar delegation stated that it would take back 2,415 citizens from Bangladesh, which is only a tiny fraction of the 300,000 Myanmar citizens who took refuge, but made no decision on the large number of unregistered Rohingyas living in Bangladesh for years, said meeting sources.

According to diplomatic sources, the Bangladesh delegation at the meeting said at least 65,000 Myanmar citizens took shelter in Bangladesh since October 9 last year, which is in excess of over 300,000 Myanmar nationals staying in Bangladesh for years.

Dhaka also asked Naypyidaw to urgently address the “root cause” of the problem in Rakhine so that the Muslims there need not be desperate to seek shelter across the border.

Bangladesh made it clear that it is solely Myanmar's responsibility to resolve the Rohingya crisis and reiterated that it would cooperate with the neighbouring country for a longstanding or permanent solution to the Rohingya issue.

Sources said the Bangladesh side asked the Myanmar delegation to immediately stop persecution and ethnic cleansing in Rakhine to stop influx and restore confidence among the Rohingyas staying in Bangladesh so that they feel encouraged to return home.

The Myanmar delegation dismissed the allegations of abuses by security forces in Rakhine, but admitted that troops poured into northern Rakhine since insurgents believed to be from the mostly “stateless” Rohingya minority attacked border posts on October 9, killing nine police officers.

Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and other senior foreign ministry officials took part in the meeting.

Officials said the number of registered refugees in Nayapara and Kutupalong camps in Cox's Bazar now stands at around 33,000. Besides, over 300,000 undocumented Myanmar nationals have been living in slums and villages mostly throughout Cox's Bazar and its adjoining districts. The refugees at the camps had earlier declined to return home fearing persecution.

Undocumented Rohingyas were damaging the local environment, creating social problems. They were also impacting negatively on the Bangladeshi citizens' job markets abroad.

Rohingyas began fleeing the Buddhist-majority country in the late 1970s, although the biggest influx was in 1992 when an estimated 250,000 fled to Bangladesh. Most of them were repatriated following an agreement between the two countries under the supervision of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

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