Bangladesh and Myanmar are set to start Rohingya repatriation process in mid-November (Nov 15). On the very first day, 2,260 Rohingya from 485 families are supposed to send back to their home land.
According to the media reports, the repatriation process is running.
In September, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar held a meeting over repatriation in New York during the UN general meeting. General Secretary of the United Nations Antonio Guterres was also present in the meeting. They discussed about finding ways of swift repatriation for Rohingya.
Bangladesh and Myanmar officials met in Dhaka on October 30, the third meeting of a joint working group to carry out a bilateral repatriation agreement signed in November 2017.
Following the meeting, representatives announced they had developed a “very concrete plan” to begin repatriations in mid-November, with the first round to include 2,260 Rohingya from 485 families.
According to Myanmar officials, starting on November 15, 150 refugees would be received each week at the Nga Khu Ya reception center before being transferred to the Hla Poe Kaung transit camp.
However, there is a doubt about how much this initiative would be successful as Myanmar could not take Rohingya back earlier, even after their commitment.
In face of international pressure, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the bilateral repatriation agreement in November 2017 to start the repatriation process by 23 January this year. But Myanmar did not launch it.
There is also a matter of fear if Rohingya will live in Rakhaine with proper security and freely, after they were sent back there. Different human rights organisations expressed their concerns that Rohingya people may fall victims of repression there again.
Myanmar military carried out killings, rape and repression in Rakhaine in name of operation against Rohingya in August, 2017. They set fire on their houses. It was nothing but a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign.
For this, International Criminal Court (ICC) came up for bringing Myanmar army officials to the justice. Later, the country made a plan to launch Rohingya repatriation process.
The rush return of Rohingya may fall them in dire conditions in Myanmar where their lives and liberty are at risk.
There is no guarantee of Rohingya’s fears of being returned to the same violence and oppression they fled.
Three recommendations were made in the high-level meeting of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). These are: Myanmar government needs to abolish discriminatory laws, policies, and practices; address the root causes of their flight; guarantee protection, rights, and pathways to citizenship for all; and bring accountability and justice to prevent atrocity crimes. This was the “minimum requirement for creating a situation that could be considered favorable to the Rohingya’s sustainable return to Myanmar.”
We think, it needs to ensure that Rohingya, who will send back to their homeland under the repatriation process in the current month, will not flee to Bangladesh again. All their rights to citizenship should be ensured first.
Though they were repatriated, they will flee to Bangladesh again if they face repression and torture there. So, it is very necessary to ensure for Rohingya a safe condition and environment in Myanmar to live and lead their lives safely. For this, Myanmar authorities should take proper steps. International community should create pressure on the country to ensure the requirements.
risingbd/Dhaka/November 07, 2018/Ali Nowsher/AKA