Repatriation 'very soon'

Myanmar minister says in Dhaka

Myanmar Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Win Myat Aye yesterday hinted at taking actions against senior Myanmar military officials if they had violated laws to avoid recurrence of atrocities in Rakhine State.

“We are emphasising having a rule of law. According to the rule of law, we can take actions if they break the law,” he told reporters at a joint briefing at the State Guest House Padma in the evening.

The Myanmar minister said their new president has declared that the country must have a rule of law.

About starting the repatriation of Rohingyas, Myat Aye said, “I am very sure that we can start the repatriation process as soon as possible.”

Asked about a specific date, he said it would happen “very soon”.

Earlier, he had a meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at the same venue.

He said Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on a verification form which would help overcome all the difficulties over starting the repatriation.

About granting citizenship to Rohingyas, Myat Aye said they would have to go through the national verification process to have citizenship. “Now we are speeding up the national verification process.”

Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali said they had a very fruitful meeting. The Bangladesh side stressed the need for rebuilding villages in Rakhine to enable the return of Rohingyas.

The returnees should not stay in transit camps for more than a few days, he added.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Myanmar Peace Commission member Aung Tun Thet also spoke at the briefing.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation agreement on November 23 last year. On January 16, the two countries inked a document on “physical arrangement” which would facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.

According to the “physical arrangement”, the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of the repatriation process.

Bangladesh currently shelters some 1.2 million Rohingyas.

Earlier on Wednesday, Myat Aye visited Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar amid protests. This was first such visit by any Myanmar minister to the refugee camps where some 700,000 Rohingyas have taken shelter since last August following an army crackdown in Rakhine.