Sunday, April 22, 2018 | ePaper

Myanmar Minister`s visit and Rohingya repatriation

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THE Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister of Myanmar Win Myat Aye, who is overseeing repatriation of the Rohingyas, met the refugees in Cox's Bazar on April 11 and assured them to take them back and try to give them citizenship. He made a rare trip to the Rohingya camps along with an 11-member delegation from Naypyidaw, also told the refugees that repatriation is a priority of his government and would start as soon as possible, as per local daily reports.
This is the first time a Myanmar Minister visited the makeshift camps where more than 700,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals are sheltered amid "ethnic cleansing" by Myanmar army. The Myanmar Minister made the visit following the UN Security Council's decision to visit Bangladesh and Myanmar to see firsthand the situation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas and observe the impact of the crisis in Rakhine State. The UN Security Council is expected to pay a two-day visit to Bangladesh on April 29.
The Myanmar Minister along with his delegates was also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at the State Guesthouse Padma yesterday. Though Dhaka hopes that the visit will help speed up repatriation process, officials and experts are skeptical about sincerity of the Myanmar government's readiness to start it soon. The Myanmar Minister said both the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments had been working unitedly for the repatriation, adding, the Rohingyas would be given citizenship and brought back with proper honour and dignity. However all of these claims should be taken with a pinch of salt. The true aims of the Myanmar government are still unknown, but their on the ground actions speak of one thing only--the forcible resettlement of thousands of Rohingyas.
It is still too early to decide whether their aims are sincere, especially as their civil administration is subordinate to their army. It is also quite early to assume that the policy of denying the Rohingya citizenship will magically disappear. Aung San Suu Kyi is not a fairy godmother for the Rohingyas.
Taking them back and then resettling them in concentration camps is also not acceptable. The slow strangulation of almost all of the possible lifelines of a society -- educational, economic, communication and medical do not bode well for any of the promises which the Myanmar government have made to the Rohingyas. Only time can tell whether their intentions are genuine or are done to stay the possibility of international sanctions.

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