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APHR chairperson not to push for Rohingya returns until conditions safe

  • Published at 03:58 pm October 26th, 2018
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu

He announced that a team of ASEAN foreign ministers will visit Myanmar in November

The Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Chairperson, Charles Santiago, a Malaysian member of parliament, has said that APHR should not push the Rohingyas to return to Myanmar until the conditions are safe for them.

The APHR chairperson recently announced that a team of Asean foreign ministers will visit Myanmar in November.

He said: “The announcement that Asean foreign ministers will apparently assist Myanmar in the repatriation of Rohingya refugees is as premature as it is concerning.”

The APHR chair further added: “Rohingya community has suffered decades of state-sponsored oppression, discrimination, and violence in Myanmar. It is abundantly clear that conditions for the Rohingyas' safe and dignified return to their homeland are far from being met. 

“Any initiatives to return the refugees to Myanmar must be transparent and meet international human rights standards.”

Santiago also mentioned that: “States must ensure that the Rohingya community is consulted in the process. The Rohingya have suffered unspeakable abuses and must have a seat at the table to determine their own futures. 

“Repatriation must not begin until a safe and secure environment for the voluntary return of Rohingya is put in place. This should include Myanmar's government abolishing discriminatory state policies and practices, and guarantees that returnees will not be settled indefinitely in internally displaced persons camps.”

Furthermore, he said: “Rohingyas must also be allowed to worship freely, access education, be compensated for their loss of land and livelihood, and receive a degree of international protection so they’re not left at the mercy of the Myanmar security forces.”

Over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar, to neighbouring Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, after being forced from their homes by military persecution—which UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein compared to ethnic cleansing at the time, according to the UN.