Describing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over Rohingya repatriation as vague, security analysts and journalists said the instrument signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar would not serve any useful purpose.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s Minister for State Counsellor’s Office Kyauw Tint Swe signed the MoU on Thursday, in which it has been mentioned that the repatriation process will begin within two months.
However, analysts claimed that the MoU is nothing but an eyewash and trick from the Myanmar side to lessen the international pressure facing the country.
They stressed that citizenship and other basic rights of the Rohingya must be guaranteed before the repatriation.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, M Shahiduzzaman, a noted security analyst and a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said: “We do not know the precise details of the MoU … The issues of how many Rohingya people will be repatriated and the repatriation timeline have not been fixed in the MoU. No agreement has been signed as yet. The MoU dictates only how things should go forward.”
Veteran journalist Afsan Chowdhury said: “We do not know what we will be able to achieve through the MoU. The instrument cannot guarantee the repartition until it is implemented.
“In the previous agreements signed in 1977 and 1992, they [Myanmar authorities] said they would take the Rohingya refugees back. Why were the Rohingya forced to flee [to Bangladesh] in 1992, 2014 and this year if the problem was really solved then according to the deals?” Afsan said.
“The MoU is nothing but an eyewash … The repatriation has to be voluntary, meaning if they want to go back, we can send them back [and] if they do not feel safe going back home, we cannot forcibly repatriate them,” he stated.
Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor of international relations at DU, said: “It is unclear why this MoU is focused on an arrangement instead of an agreement. It is said that the repatriation will start within two months, but when it will conclude has not been specified in the MoU.
“Whether the Rohingya people will be able to go back to Myanmar as citizens of the country is an important issue to think about, because they went back in the ’70s and ’90s, but they were not given citizenship. Instead, whatever rights they had were taken away.”
“We should wait for our foreign minister’s press conference [to be held today] as he could say very well the nitti-gritty of the arrangement. He could explain how practical this arrangement is,” he added.
Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist based in Europe, said the Myanmar government must give Rohingya people the national identity cards acknowledging their full citizenship.
“They must be able to go back to their original villages. Their confiscated lands must be given back and all burnt houses must be rebuilt before they go back home,” San Lwin demanded.