Failure to begin repatriation regrettable, says Foreign Minister
Against the backdrop of a second failure to begin the repatriation of Rohingyas, Bangladesh is contemplating to form an international commission that will be tasked with supervising the activities of the Myanmar government to make Rakhine state suitable for the return of the persecuted people, who took shelter in Cox’s Bazar to escape the atrocities of their security forces and neighbours.
“I am thinking…We want to form a commission comprising representatives from different countries. They (commission) will supervise whether work is being done or not,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Momen told reporters at his office on Thursday.
“And, Myanmar should come forward,” he said while replying to different queries about the repatriation attempt on the day.
“If they (Myanmar government) are honest they should grant access to them (the members of the commission), he added without any elaboration.
“We were expecting that the repatriation would begin today. It will begin even at a small scale. But, it has not yet started. We are still hoping,” said the Foreign Minister, describing the day’s failed attempt as regrettable.
He mentioned the deficit of trust between the Rohingyas and the Myanmar government as the reason for unwillingness of the persecuted community to return home.
In the repatriation move in Cox’s Bazar, representatives from the Myanmar and Chinese governments were present alongside the Bangladeshi officials.
Referring to the fourth Bangladesh-Myanmar joint working group’s May 3 meeting in Naypyitawon, Dr Momen said that since there is a trust deficit Dhaka made an offer to take 100 Rohingya community leaders, who are called Majhi, to see what arrangements had been taken by the government for the safe and secure return of the displaced people.
“There is a fear amongst them (Rohingyas) about adequate safety and security. Myanmar can take the Majhis for them to see if security and safety are in place,” he said.
“The offer has been made (to the Myanmar government long time back. Even the ASEAN knows that there is big trust deficit there,” he added.
Asked about the next step of the government after the day’s failure, the minister said, “This problem has been created by Myanmar and the solution to the problem also lies with them. We don’t want to do anything forcibly.”
“We are completely prepared. We don’t have any negligence anywhere,” he claimed, adding that Myanmar would have to prove that the peaceful situation exists in Rakhine.
He also suggested that journalists be allowed there to verify the situation.
Asked about the four key demands of the Rohingyas as preconditions to return including citizenship and justice, Dr Momen said, “We cannot be taken hostage to their demands. They have to realise their demands after returning to their own country.”
When asked if the Rohingyas will ever agree to return home leaving the ‘comfort’ in Bangladesh, he said, “The comfort will not be there in future because those who are helping now will not do so in the future.”
In a reference to the development of the Bhashan Char, he said, “We have spent Tk 2,500 crore to Tk 3,000 crore from our own fund. This money will also not be available in the future. The Rohingyas who do not want to return should go back for the sake of their future.”
To a question regarding relocating to the Bhashan Char, he said, “We will be strong this time.
Responding to a question in regards to the campaign by individuals and organisations from stopping the Rohingyas from returning, Dr Momen said that those elements would be identified and measures would be taken.