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Myanmar minister at UN: Destructive movements in Rohingya camps preventing repatriation

  • Published at 03:16 pm September 29th, 2019
File photo: Rohingya refugees leave after attending a demonstration at Camp No 4 (Extension) at Kutupalong's Modhurchhara in Ukhiya on August 25, 2019 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh has been playing host to over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees

Kyaw Tint Swe, Myanmar’s Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor, has claimed destructive movements in the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh are preventing repatriation.

The senior official made the claim during his nation's address on the fifth day of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, reports The New York Times.

He said Myanmar is working with Bangladesh and the UN to find "long-term and practical solutions" to bring home some of the more than 740,000 Rohingya in the country's Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh.

Myanmar's military began a harsh crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled what has been called an ethnic cleansing campaign involving mass rapes, killings and burning of their homes. Many of them are residing in refugee camps in and around Cox's Bazar, a Bangladeshi town near the border with Rakhine.

Last year, the UN-established Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar recommended the prosecution of top Myanmar military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Myanmar has rejected the allegations.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement in late 2017 to address the issue but repeated attempts at repatriation have failed because the Rohingya refuse to return without security guarantees.

"Issues between neighbours can and must be resolved bilaterally in an amicable and friendly manner," Kyaw Tint Swe said. "There have been persistent calls to put pressure on Myanmar. There is also a call to set up a 'Safe Zone' inside Myanmar. Such a demand is neither warranted nor workable."

The Myanmar minister also rejected notions that the International Criminal Court (ICC) be involved in any probes into military abuse of Rohingya in Rakhine. Myanmar is not a party to the court, and Kyaw Tint Swe said an investigation by the country's military recently produced an announcement that "suggests that there will soon be a court martial."

"Myanmar is not opposed to accountability for any wrongdoing related to the large outflow of displaced people to Bangladesh," Kyaw Tint Swe said, but any international body "does not have jurisdiction over alleged crimes in our country."