Rights Group Concerned About Rohingya Repatriation
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A leading rights group on Friday voiced concern over the lack of an international monitor for the repatriation of Rohignya refugees to Myanmar.
They will be repatriated to the troubled Rakhine state from Bangladesh under an agreement between the two countries, Anadolu Agency reported.
Myanmar and Bangladesh on Thursday signed a repatriation agreement for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh to escape the brutal military crackdown in the Maungdaw area of Rakhine state in recent months.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said the idea that Myanmar will now welcome 620,000 Rohingya, who recently escaped one of the most brutal cases of mass persecution, back to their smoldering villages with open arms is “laughable”.
HRW’s Refugee Rights Director, Bill Frelick, said in a statement on Friday that a lot needs to be done before the repatriation begins.
“Instead of signing on to a public relation stunt, the international community should make it clear that there can be no returns without international monitors,” said Bill.
He added that international monitors are essential to ensure the rights of refugees such as their security, an end to the idea of putting returnees in camps, the return of land and the rebuilding of destroyed homes and villages.
"Even then, it will be hard to build the trust necessary for many Rohingya to voluntarily return unless the Burmese army begins the mammoth task of reversing decades of abuses and discriminations against them.
”Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population said the new deal was based on a 1993 agreement reached by the respective governments on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
The 1993 agreement includes a major point that says refugees must prove their nationality to the Myanmar government by presenting valid documentations such as White Cards and the receipts given by authorities after returning White Cards.
"However, we made some amendments to the 1993 agreement this time," Kyaing told Anadolu Agency without giving any details.
"We will also accept anyone who is able to clearly state his/her name and the village they lived in even if they lost relevant documents in fire or violence," he said.
The secretary added that Myanmar had already sent registration forms to the Bangladeshi government to be filled in by refugees.
"The repatriation can be started shortly after the forms are sent back to us," he said.
The Bangladeshi delegation was led by Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali who also met Myanmar's de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday before the agreement was signed.
"The principled position of Myanmar is that issues that emerge between neighboring countries must be resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations," according to a press release by the Ministry of the Office of the State Counsellor.
"The present arrangement, which had been agreed to by both countries based on their friendly and good neighborly relations demonstrate the steadfast position of Myanmar and is a win-win situation for both countries," it said.