The European Rohingya Council and the ArakanRohingya Union have stated that the Myanmar government must renegotiate the repatriation agreement with Bangladesh for the displaced Rohingya people.
The two Rohingya organizations, in a joint statement on February 1, also demanded that UNHCR and Rohingya representatives from camps be made parties in the agreement, to ensure proper and voluntary repatriation.
The statement, signed by ArakanRohingya Union Director General DrWakar Uddin and European Rohingya Council Chairman DrHlaKyaw, also put forward an eight-point demand to ensure the rights of the Rohingya community and to ensure their safe repatriation.
“The ArakanRohingya Union and the European Rohingya Council demand that the Government of Myanmar address the security, human rights and citizenship issues faced by Rohingya ethnic minority, before any step is taken to repatriate the forcefully displaced Rohingya from camps in Bangladesh to their original homes in Rakhine state,” read the statement.
Expressing deep appreciation for the Bangladesh government and its people for their persistent efforts to find a solution to the crisis, the organizations noted that the Bangladesh government signed a bilateral agreement with Myanmar government in good faith for repatriation of the Rohingyas to their original homes in Arakan.
However, the Myanmar government continues to demonstrate the lack of transparency and integrity evidenced by its conducts, the statement mentioned.
“The Rohingya people express serious concerns over the hostile environment where there is no guaranteed security for the returnees. Transferring the displaced Rohingyas from one camp to another side of the border will only add to their agony,” the statement read.
It also pointed out that while engaged with Bangladesh government for Rohingya repatriation, the Myanmar government continues to demolish homes in Rohingya villages that are still intact or only partially damaged.
The statement further read: “Crucial source of water for livelihood, the tube wells, in large numbers have been removed from the Rohingya villages and being transported to non-Rohingya living areas in Arakan.
“Security in Rohingya villages remains a serious concern as attacks and looting by Myanmar armed forces and Buddhist Rakhine militia has spiraled over the past several days. Most recently, Myanmar authorities have reportedly issued eviction notices to the Rohingya families of the remaining homes in Quarter 5 in East Maungdaw.”
The Myanmar government continues the NVC (National Verification Card) campaign to further cement the persecution policy and create stateless condition for the Rohingya ethnic minority, the statement revealed.
The two organizations alleged that the Myanmar government has failed to demonstrate that it is genuinely working with the Rakhine Commission for the implementation of the Annan recommendation.
The fact-finding mission of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), after visiting at the Rohingya camps of Cox’s Bazar from January 21-24, found that there is still no secure environment in Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas.
APHR Chairperson, and Malaysian MP, Charles Santiago recently emphasized on the accountability of Myanmar government and the country’s army, compensation for the Rohingyas, Rohingya recognition issue, peacekeeping during repatriation, and right to practice one’s own religion and culture.
“Rohingyas are present nowhere in the discussion. They should have been given a clear idea about the repatriation agreement and its content,” Santiago said.
He added: “Without the presence of peacekeeping force, repatriation will be difficult, in other words, he said, it will be almost impossible. Repatriation should be safe and voluntary.”
A Bangladesh government’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission report stated that more than 688,350 Rohingyas entered into the country from August 28, 2017 till January 30 this year, after being displaced by the oppression of the Myanmar Army and the Rakhine-living Moghs.
Apart from the recent influx, several hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have been living in two upazilas of Cox’s Bazar for a very long time.
Local sources claim that at least 1.5 million Rohingya people, including the refugees that entered Bangladesh in recent and previous intrusions, are currently living in Cox’s Bazar.
On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement” which will facilitate return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh, following a repatriation deal between the two countries on November 23, 2017.