Myan­mar to ver­ify re­turnees

Rakhine mag­net for Chi­nese cash


YAN­GON, Sept 28, (AFP): Myan­mar is poised to be­gin “ver­i­fy­ing” how many of the near half a mil­lion Ro­hingya refugees to Bangladesh it will take back, the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion said Thursday, nam­ing land and sea points in restive Rakhine state for their re­turn.

Some 480,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims have fled Rakhine to Bangladesh since Aug 25, when mil­i­tant at­tacks on sparked an army cam­paign that the UN says was tan­ta­mount to “eth­nic cleans­ing”.

The new ar­rivals are liv­ing in in­creas­ingly des­per­ate con­di­tions in over-crowded rain-bat­tered camps, re­liant on a trickle of aid.

Bangladesh, which al­ready hosted hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya be­fore the lat­est cri­sis, has led the global cho­rus call­ing on Myan­mar to take back the Ro­hingya and guar­an­tee their safety.

But it is un­clear how many Ro­hingya, who num­bered around one mil­lion in Myan­mar be­fore Au­gust 25, will be el­i­gi­ble for re­turn to a coun­try that does not recog­nise them as cit­i­zens.

Many oth­ers are un­will­ing to move back to charred vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties cut by com­mu­nal hate in Rakhine.

Last week Myan­mar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her coun­try will repa­tri­ate those who meet a strict cri­te­ria set be­tween the two coun­tries in 1993, when tens of thou­sands of Ro­hingya were repa­tri­ated hav­ing fled Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties.

Ver­i­fi­ca­tion will be car­ried out “soon” on Myan­mar soil at two bor­der points, the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion said in a Face­book state­ment.

They will be checked at “Taung­pyo Latwe vil­lage for those who re­turn by road and at Naguya Vil­lage for those who re­turn by wa­ter,” it said, quot­ing Win Myat Aye, Min­is­ter for So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment.

“Af­ter the ver­i­fi­ca­tion process, the refugees will be set­tled at Dar­gyizar vil­lage,” he was quoted as say­ing.

Dar­gyizar vil­lage is in an area of Maung­daw hit hard by the re­cent com­mu­nal vi­o­lence, that saw hun­dreds killed and gut­ted count­less Ro­hingya vil­lages.

Mean­while, Bat­tered by global out­rage over an army crack­down on Ro­hingya Mus­lims, Myan­mar has found com­fort in an old friend — China, an Asian su­per­power whose un­flinch­ing sup­port is tied to the bil­lions it has lav­ished on ports, gas and oil in vi­o­lence-hit Rakhine state.

China — which is ex­pected to speak later Thursday at a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing on the cri­sis — has fallen out of step with much of the world in con­demn­ing the army-led crack­down.

“We think the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity should sup­port the ef­forts of Myan­mar in safe­guard­ing the sta­bil­ity of its na­tional de­vel­op­ment,” for­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said ear­lier this month.

That sup­port was far from un­ex­pected from an ally who ploughed cash into Myan­mar even as its econ­omy choked un­der a half cen­tury of mil­i­tary rule and US sanc­tions.

Most of those sanc­tions were rolled back in 2014 as a re­ward for demo­cratic elec­tions.

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