Myanmar, Bangladesh Sign Rohingya Return Deal
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday for the return home of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled to the neighboring country to escape a Myanmar army crackdown.
“We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us,” said Myint Kyaing, a permanent secretary at Myanmar’s ministry of labor, immigration and population, referring to registration forms the Rohingya must complete with personal details before repatriation, Reuters reported.
Rights groups have accused the military in mostly Buddhist Myanmar of carrying out mass rape and other atrocities during a counter-insurgency operation launched in late August in retaliation for attacks by militants in Rakhine State.
On Wednesday, the United States said the military operation that drove 620,000 Rohingya to seek sanctuary in neighboring, largely Muslim Bangladesh, amounted to “ethnic cleansing”, echoing an accusation first leveled by top UN officials in the early days of the humanitarian crisis.
Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was set to meet Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali on Thursday ahead of the signing.
Suu Kyi, whose reputation as a Nobel peace prize winner has suffered during the crisis, has said repatriation of the largely stateless Muslim minority would be based on residency and that it will be “safe and voluntary”.