In a statement, they said the international community is in the dark as the texts of the MoU have not been made public
Twenty-three Rohingya organizations have expressed their concern regarding the memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was recently signed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Myanmar.
In a statement, they said the international community is in the dark as the text of the MoU has not been made public.
The organizations also said the Rohingya refugees are not represented in the repatriation process even though they have the right to know about the contents of the agreement; as it relates to their: repatriation, rehabilitation, re-integration, and future— as well as the rebuilding of their bulldozed homes.
The MoU did not address the root cause of the Rohingya crisis, particularly the issue of the citizenship and ethnic identity of the refugees, claimed the 23 Rohingya organizations.
The organizations demanded international protection by state and regional actors, as well as by United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces, for Rohingyas to be safely and sustainably repatriated, in a dignified manner, to their homeland in northern Rakhine State. The organizations also seek rehabilitation for the Rohingya returning to Myanmar. .
They also said there must be accountability and perpetrators of crimes must be brought to justice and referred to International Criminal Court (ICC).
The 23 organizations are the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, Burmese Rohingya Organization UK, British Rohingya Community in UK, Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark, Burmese Rohingya Association Japan, Rohingya Advocacy Network in Japan, Arakan Rohingya Development Association – Australia, Burmese Rohingya Community Australia, Burmese Rohingya Association in Queensland-Australia, Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organisation, Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative, European Rohingya Council, Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization in Malaysia, Rohingya American Society, Rohingya Arakanese Refugee Committee, Rohingya Association of Canada, Rohingya Community in Germany, Rohingya Community in Switzerland, Rohingya Community in Finland, Rohingya Community in Sweden, Rohingya Organization Norway, Rohingya Society Malaysia and Rohingya Society Netherlands.
In a joint statement, they said: “We, the signed Rohingya organizations worldwide, note the MoU to support the creation of conditions conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to their homes in Arakan/Rakhine State.”
“This is not the first repatriation agreement Myanmar has signed. All previous records showed that the UN agencies, including UNHCR as the agent of the interest of the international community, could not provide adequate protection to the returnees due to obstinacy of the Myanmar government,” the organizations said.
“We are intrinsically aware of the false promises of the Myanmar authorities who are characterized by cheating and brutality.
“Repatriation is a life and death question for the whole Rohingya people. The refugees require full international protection and guarantee of their safety, dignity, and full citizenship and all accompanying rights enabling them to live in Arakan/Rakhine State as equals, with their recognized ethnic identity, as an indigenous people,” they pointed out.
The statement added: “The conditions for well-founded fear of persecution continue to exist for those who still remain in Rakhine State, where they are forced to live in confined villages, ghettos and concentration camps, away from their homes, with virtually no rights of man, no education, ability to work and to survive— not to mention those who might seek to return.
“They [Rohingyas] could not trust the Myanmar government and military that have killed, raped, and starved them with hundreds of their villages razed, their land taken and homesteads bulldozed.”