Myanmar will take back Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh after verification in accordance with the 1992 Joint Statement, an agreement signed between Dhaka and Naypyidaw.
Myanmar’s State Counsellor Office said this in a statement on Tuesday, after the country’s State Counsellor’s Office Minister Kyaw Tint Swe held a meeting with Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on repatriation of the Rohingya at Padma State Guest House in Dhaka on Monday.
Minister Swe on Monday, however, did not make any comment on the repatriation process.
According to the Joint Statement, signed on April 28, 1992, registered Rohingya refugees willing to return home can be repatriated if they are possessed of valid identity documents.
It was said in tuesday’s statement that the Myanmar minister reiterated State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s commitment she made during her televised speech to the nation on September 19. Suu Kyi in her address said Myanmar was ready to conduct a verification process to take back the Rohingya and that the 1992 agreement would be the basis of their repatriation.
Some 236,495 Rohingya people were taken back from Bangladesh pursuant to the agreement, the statement claimed. Bringing to the fore those deals signed between the two neighbouring countries in Yangon on January 14, 2000, the statement also said the two sides can resolve bilateral issues, including the Rohingya crisis, in an amicable manner, given their respective interests.
Calling the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army a common enemy of both countries, the Myanmar minister proposed taking a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism.
He also invited Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali to visit Naypyidaw to further discuss the verification and repatriation process. Mahmood accepted his invitation, according to the statement.
Emerging from Monday’s meeting, Mahmood told reporters: “Myanmar proposed taking its citizens back and agreed to form a joint working group to deal with the process. Both sides will decide on formation of the working group.”
He, however, did not specify when it will be formed.
In addition to the 400,000 Rohingya who are already living here, over half a million people have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 24, after ethnic conflicts in Rakhine sparked the most rapid human exodus since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Of them, only 5,800 refugees have so far been registered, according to the Australia-based ABC News.
If they are to be repatriated as per Myanmar’s proposal, it is not guaranteed that all of the registered refugees will be able to return home, as the Myanmar government says they will take back only those who are in possession of valid nationality documents.
According to a 2015 report of the Frontier Myanmar, only 7,548 out of one million Rohingya people in Rakhine received national verification cards (NVCs).
This article was first published on banglatribune.com