• Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 12:50 am

Bangladesh envoy unable to visit ‘reconstructed’ Rohingya villages

  • Published at 12:10 am September 16th, 2019
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Photo: REUTERS

The envoy, along with other mission heads, were supposed to visit the villages in a guided tour

Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury was unable to visit “reconstructed” Rohingya villages in Rakhine – owing to bad weather. 

The Bangladesh envoy, along with the heads of mission of nine member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), China and India, flew to Rakhine state capital Sittwe on September 10 to see the villages, rebuilt for the return of the Rohingyas who fled their homes to escape the atrocities by Myanmar security forces, and took shelter in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar two years ago.

But they could not make it to the villages as their helicopters could not fly due to bad weather, diplomatic sources told Dhaka Tribune.

A second attempt to visit the villages was made the next day, but the plan was cancelled again due to bad weather.

Representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) joined the envoys for the visit to the villages. 

The delegates were accompanied by a deputy minister attached to Myanmar State Counsellor's Office, headed by the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Asked if the weather was really bad for the visit, a diplomat told this correspondent: “Yes, it was bad. The envoys were even seated in the helicopters, but they could not fly.”

The Myanmar government is working to reschedule the visit, but nothing has been fixed yet, he further added.

The sources, however, did not sound particularly optimistic about the visit as it is set to be a guided tour.

The Myanmar authorities will showcase the three reconstructed villages that have been shown to many foreign dignitaries, including former Bangladesh foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali, they told Dhaka Tribune.

Even if a visit is scheduled in future, the envoys will be taken to places chosen by the Myanmar authorities, they added.

‘Arsa to blame for failure in repatriation’

While the envoys were in Sittwe, the Myanmar authorities arranged “interactions” between the envoys and some Hindus and Rohingyas who supposedly returned to Rakhine from Bangladesh.

Speaking to the visiting delegates, all of them squarely blamed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) for their journey to Cox’s Bazar, and said they were still afraid to return to their homes due to Arsa activities, the sources said.

The sources further observed that it was obvious that the Hindus and Rohingyas had told the envoys what they had been instructed to say by the Myanmar authorities.