'We do not have any information on this. If a refugee wanted to be repatriated, they will have to follow the process maintained by RRRC, and UNHCR'
The claim by the Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka, on the repatriation of 29 Rohingyas from Bangladesh, is nothing but propaganda, said a top official involved in managing Rohingyas in Bangladesh.
The Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, claimed that 29 more displaced Rohingyas went back to Myanmar from Bangladesh, on their own volition, through the Taung Pyo Letwe Reception Center.
However, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Md Mahbub Alam Talukder told Dhaka Tribune that it is a false propaganda by Myanmar.
“We do not have any information on this. If a refugee wanted to be repatriated, they will have to follow the process maintained by RRRC, and UNHCR,” he said.
No individual enlisted in the camps in Cox's Bazar have been repatriated, but they [Myanmar] are making such a claim as is their habit, and it is a part of propaganda, he added.
The Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka also claimed that a total of 351 Rohingyas have so far voluntarily returned from Bangladesh, while several more people in the camps were eager to return to Myanmar.
“The Government of Myanmar is making its best efforts for the safe, smooth, and sustainable repatriation, in accord (sic) with the bilateral instruments signed with Bangladesh Government, and closely cooperating with UN organizations in this regard,” claimed the Facebook post.
Till date, two attempts were taken to repatriate some of the Rohingyas from Bangladesh to Myanmar, both failed due to complete unwillingness to return on the part of the refugees.
The coastal district of Cox's Bazar currently hosts, in at least 30 camps, more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, over 700,000 of whom fled from Rakhine in the face of brutal persecution carried out by Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs, and people from different ethnic groups since August 25, 2017, in what the UN termed as "ethnic cleansing."
Repatriation since 2018
Under immense international pressure, Myanmar had signed an agreement with Bangladesh in January 2018 to take back the Rohingyas.
Following a series of discussions between a proactive Bangladesh, and an unwilling Myanmar, the two countries attempted to begin repatriation on November 15 last year, but the effort failed, mainly due to the unwillingness on the part of Rohingyas in returning, and objections from the international community on different grounds.
The refugees maintain that there was no guarantee that Myanmar will ensure their dignified return, and establish their identity as Myanmar nationals.
The second attempt was made in August this year, ending in the same manner as the first.