Myanmar has recently responded to Bangladesh’s draft proposal for repatriation of the Rohingya.
Dhaka had earlier handed over the draft to Union Minister Kyaw Tint Swe during his visit in early October.
A senior Bangladesh government officer acknowledged the development, saying Myanmar had responded within three weeks.
“We are in touch with them. We will give a response after discussions. The repatriation process will be finalised through discussions,” the official added.
Asked about Myanmar’s proposals, the official said Naypyitaw had agreed with some of Dhaka’s proposals, disagreed with few others and made some new ones.
Proposals opposed by Myanmar
One of Dhaka’s proposals said Naypyitaw would have to take back all the Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh since 1992. A diplomatic source said Myanmar’s proposal stated that it would not make any promises to take back those who had gone to Bangladesh before October 2016.
More than 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh from the Rakhine state since August 25. “Another 90,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh between October last year and July, while the country had already been hosting about 300,000 Rohingya,” the source said.
Another section of Bangladesh’s proposal said the standard set in 1992 would not be applicable for the repatriation and that a new standard had to be set considering the current situation.
“They (Myanmar) have taken a strong position against this proposal. There was a bilateral agreement in 2000 based on the 1992 agreement to scrutinise a small number of Rohingya. They have proposed using that as standard,” the official said.
Scrutinisation process of 9% Rohingya, who had fled to Bangladesh in 1992, was complex for reasons like the birth of Rohingya children in Bangladesh and their marriages with locals. A new agreement was inked in 2000 to overcome the problem. Myanmar now wants to use that agreement as the base.
A Dhaka official said Myanmar was trying to carry out the “very complex scrutinisation process” of 10% Rohingya. “It is their proposal and we will respond to it after discussions.”
Bangladesh’s proposal said that the Rohingya would go back to their home but Myanmar’s counter proposal said the Rohingya could return some place close to their homes.
Another official in Dhaka said the proposal was somewhat acceptable, adding: “New houses have to be built as most of their houses had been destroyed.”
Another important section of Bangladesh’s proposal is to involve the United Nations with the repatriation process but Myanmar has objected to it.
“Tint Swe had objected to this proposal during his meeting with our foreign minister,” the official said. “There was a pact with the UN refugee agency in 1993 under the 1992 agreement. The organisation used to approve the Rohingya based on that pact.
“Complexities could arise if they (the UN) are not included in the [repatriation] process.”
Bangladesh has proposed joint scrutinisation in case of disagreement between the two countries but Myanmar rejected it too.
A Foreign Ministry official, preferring anonymity, said: “It had taken more than six months to reach the 1992 agreement. Now the process has started through discussions. There will be proposals and counter-proposals.
“How much Bangladesh can get out of it will depend on our bargaining capability.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune