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Unproductive meeting between Myanmar, Rohingyas ends in Cox’s Bazar

  • Published at 09:54 pm December 19th, 2019
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Members of a Myanmar-Asean delegation shake hands with Rohingya refugee leaders during a meeting at Camp No 4 (extension) at Kutupalong in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar Dhaka Tribune

The 47 Rohingya community leaders, whom included six women, told reporters that the Myanmar representatives insisted them to return to Myanmar

The final day of a Myanmar-Asean delegation’s two-day Cox's Bazar visit to meet Rohingya representatives concerning the latter’s repatriation have ended without any definite outcome.

Talking to reporters after the meeting on Thursday, Chan Aye, director general of Myanmar foreign ministry’s Department of International Organizations and Economics, said the Rohingyas have put forth a number demands during the discussion over the past two days.

He said they would forward these issues to the top officials of the Myanmar government and work to resolve them as quickly as possible.

Mohammad Shamsu Douza, additional commissioner of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, said the foreign delegates held the meetings with 47 Rohingya representatives at Camp No 4 (extension) at Kutupalong's Modhurchhara in Ukhiya on Wednesday and Thursday.

He said the 15-member delegation — comprising nine officials from different ministries of Myanmar and six from different member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) — left for Dhaka in the afternoon, after the meeting, which started in the morning, ended around 2pm on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the 47 Rohingya community leaders, whom included six women, told reporters that the Myanmar representatives insisted them to return to Myanmar.

But, they said, Myanmar officials stressed that Rohingyas would have to get the National Verification Card [NVC] first as non-Myanmar nationals to kick off the repatriation process. Then, Myanmar will scrutinise the cards and decide about their citizenship.

The Rohingya leaders said they rejected the unjust proposal like they did before. They said it was better for them to die here in the cramp refugee camps in Bangladesh, than go back and face brutal persecution all over again.

The camps at Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar currently shelters more than 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled persecution in Myanmar over the past decade. Over 740,000 of them crossed over to Bangladesh after Myanmar’s military launched a violent crackdown on the Rohingyas in late August 2017.

Not a single condition fulfilled for safe repatriation

Meanwhile, officials concerned of Bangladesh government on Thursday expressed frustration over the two-day talks in Cox’s Bazar and described them as totally unproductive.

They said that Myanmar’s stance in regards to the Rohingya repatriation has not changed a bit.

A Foreign Ministry official unequivocally told the Myanmar delegation that not a single condition for a safe, sustainable and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas has yet been fulfilled.

“Myanmar’s position remains as it was before. No change at all,” a senior official, who attended the meeting yesterday, told Dhaka Tribune. “They [Myanmar] are still not at all ready to take back their people.”

Another senior official said: “The Foreign Ministry representative during the meetings told the Myanmar delegation that in last two days they failed to show that a single condition required for a safe, sustainable and dignified repatriation has been met.

“Even though under the bilateral instruments signed between the two countries, it should have been done long time back.”

The officials also expressed dismay at the role played by the officials of Asean countries.

The past two days were “nothing but a farce” on the part of Myanmar, they said, adding that it was yet another example of Myanmar’s “ill-intention” to not solve the lingering crisis.