They seek citizenship, safety, and a restoration of their lands
The most recent attempt at repatriating the Rohingya was doomed from the start.
The Myanmar government held no discussions, made no effort to generate dialogue, before suddenly coming up with a list of 1,037 families ready for repatriation.
However, as expected, none of the Rohingya who had fled showed up to join the motorcade that was set to take them to the border.
And how could they? It must be remembered that the Rohingya have survived some of the worst persecution the world has ever witnessed from their own countrymen.
As for the voluntary repatriation of the Rohingya, Myanmar needs to earn their trust -- but the fact remains that the Rohingya have no faith in the Myanmar government when it comes to their safety, especially not so when Myanmar continues to pay no heed to their demands.
This is a sentiment that the Rohingya leaders themselves have rightfully stated, as they seek citizenship, safety, and a restoration of their lands, and until Myanmar meets their demands, the Rohingya will never opt for repatriation willingly.
And it is of the utmost importance that we keep this in mind, ensuring that the Rohingya have the freedom to decide for themselves.
Unfortunately, as we move past the second year of the most recent Rohingya influx, fleeing from murder, arson, and rape, it seems that we are yet to find a solution to the ensuing crisis.
Myanmar must make a genuine attempt to restore Rohingya faith in the repatriation process. This will require not only talking to their leaders, but punishing the ones who were responsible for the persecution carried out.
This is the only way forward.