Myanmar is playing the citizenship card once again. According to a report by the Reuters, a Myanmar minister told a group of Western diplomats early in June that the country's discriminatory citizenship law, which largely restricts citizenship to the members of what it terms “national races”, excluding the Rohingyas, would not be amended. The 1982 law basically renders the ethnic group “stateless” which is at the centre of all their sufferings—and that of Bangladesh now. Myanmar is trying to show that the mass exodus triggered by military crackdowns following the August 2017 attacks on its security posts had nothing to with the refugees' citizenship or lack thereof, and so their repatriation shouldn't be impacted by a fixation on the issue—a position that's not only fundamentally wrong but may also have a profound impact on the future of the repatriation talks.
Myanmar knows that too, which begs the question: how sincere is it really to end the stalemate in the repatriation process? Months have passed by since Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal to repatriate the refugees within two years, which the latter made a mockery of by coming up with one stupefying excuse after another. As important as the citizenship issue is the guarantee to put in place legal and administrative safeguards for the Rohingyas once they return home as well as to bring those responsible for the Rohingya genocide to justice. That the exodus was predetermined has been proved by a recent Amnesty International report that brought specific allegations against Myanmar's army commander-in-chief and 12 other senior officials for overseeing an “orchestrated campaign of violence” in the restive state. But Myanmar is deaf to reason, as these developments show, so the international community must exert full diplomatic pressure to make it account for its action and be a responsible part of the solution.