• Monday, Sep 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 08:31 pm

High-level Myanmar team likely to visit Bangladesh

  • Published at 07:54 pm July 16th, 2019
web-makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar
This photo taken recently shows a makeshift rohingya camp in cox’s Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

A delegation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently in Dhaka addressing the Rohingya crisis

A high-level team from Myanmar is likely to visit Bangladesh from July 26 to 29 to convince the Rohingyas sheltered in Cox’s Bazar to return to their homes in Rakhine, officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bangladesh Embassy in Yangon, told the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

The team, headed by the Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry, will visit Cox’s Bazar to directly talk to the Rohingyas. They said delegation members will update the Rohingyas regarding the current situation in Rakhine and are expected to argue that it is safe for the persecuted people to go back to Myanmar.

Welcoming the decision, the officials cast doubt on Myanmar’s intention to take their people back who had to flee their homes due to the unprecedented atrocities orchestrated by their own security forces and fellow Buddhist citizens.

The visit is taking place at the insistence of Dhaka, which has long been asking Naypyitaw to come to Cox’s Bazar and convince its people to return to their homeland, they said.

Some Rohingyas spoke to this correspondent and categorically said they would only return in a situation verified by the international community, as they do not trust the Myanmar government.

“Although the dates are not absolutely final, it is most likely that a high-level Myanmar delegation, led by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is equivalent to our foreign secretary, will visit Bangladesh from July 26-29.

“The team might arrive on the night of July 25,” a senior official at the Bangladesh Embassy in Yangon told this correspondent over the telephone.

“We are yet to know the composition of the team but there might be 10-15 people in the delegation,” he said.

“The objective of the visit is to persuade Rohingyas to return home through direct interactions with the persecuted people living at different temporary settlements in Cox’s Bazar,” said the official.

“My understanding is that the Myanmar team will try to explain that the situation in Rakhine has improved and now it is safe for the Rohingyas to return home.

“But, I really do not know if the Rohingyas will believe them or not,” he said.

When asked if he expects any positive outcome from this visit, the official said: “I will only believe when I will see movement on the ground.

“Given the track record of our second neighbour, I cannot be optimistic, even if I wanted to.”

“We have been asking Myanmar for a long time to come to interact with the Rohingyas face-to-face and convince them to return to their own land.

“For us, it is Myanmar’s own problem and it is Myanmar that will have to take the responsibility to solve this,” said a senior official concerned, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Even in the first week of May in Naypyitaw, we said the same thing to them during the meeting of the joint working group to facilitate repatriation,” he added.

“Now that Myanmar is sending a high-level team, let us see if anything happens,” he said.

Responding to a query, the official said: “We always hope for the best. But you have to remember that we are dealing here with a neighbour that shifts its position frequently and does not live up to its pledges.”

“According to the agreement we signed with them (Myanmar) in November 2017, the repatriation should have begun by January, 2018.

“But nothing has happened to date, and Myanmar has failed to create a conducive environment for the safe return of the Rohingyas. So, nothing can be said until something actually happens,” he added.

ICC team in Dhaka

A delegation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrived in Dhaka to discuss the Rohingya crisis.

They landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 8:54am on Tuesday and will leave Dhaka on July 22.

The delegation headed by ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Kirkpatrick Stewart, will talk to senior government officials and representatives of international organizations about the Rohingya issue.

They will also hold meetings with officials of the Law and Home ministries and visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar to see the situation on the ground, officials said.

The ICC prosecutor has already requested its judges to authorize an investigation into alleged crimes like deportation, other inhumane acts, and persecution committed against the Rohingyas.