Myan­mar will­ing to repa­tri­ate ‘ver­i­fied re­turnees’ from Bangladesh – UN

‘ver­i­fied re­turnees' from Bangladesh – UN

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Myan­mar is pri­or­i­tiz­ing the repa­tri­a­tion of scores of peo­ple who fled vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine state for Bangladesh, a se­nior of­fi­cial from the coun­try said on Satur­day, the fifth day of de­bate in the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly.

Some 900,000 mainly Ro­hingya refugees from Myan­mar have sought shel­ter in the Cox’s Bazar re­gion in south-east­ern Bangladesh fol­low­ing mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions two years ago.

Kyaw Tint Swe, Myan­mar’s Union Min­is­ter for the Of­fice of the State Coun­sel­lor, said repa­tri­a­tions would be car­ried out in line with a November 2017 agree­ment with Bangladesh, ac­cord­ing to UN state­ment on its web­site.

“Our pri­or­ity now is to ex­pe­dite repa­tri­a­tion and to cre­ate a more con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for ver­i­fied re­turnees,” he said, high­light­ing co­op­er­a­tion with Bangladesh, the UN and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South East Asian Na­tions (ASEAN), among oth­ers. Qualified re­turnees to re­ceive cit­i­zen­ship cards

Mr. Swe said dis­placed peo­ple who had been living in Rakhine state “have a dif­fer­ent le­gal sta­tus.”

Those who qual­ify for cit­i­zen­ship will be is­sued with cit­i­zen­ship cards. The rest will re­ceive Na­tional Ver­i­fi­ca­tion

Cards which he likened to the “green card” is­sued to im­mi­grants in the United States.

Mr. Swe said Gov­ern­ment ef­forts to bring peace and sta­bil­ity to Rakhine state “pre­date the vi­o­lent at­tacks by the ARSA (Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army) ter­ror­ist group in 2016 and 2017 that trig­gered off the cur­rent hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.”

Some 300 peo­ple have al­ready re­turned to Myan­mar of their own vo­li­tion “de­spite ob­sta­cles, in­clud­ing killings and threats by ARSA,” he said.

The Min­is­ter dis­missed de­mands to es­tab­lish a “safe zone” in Myan­mar as “nei­ther war­ranted, nor work­able.”

He called on Bangladesh to faith­fully im­ple­ment the bi­lat­eral agree­ment, which he de­scribed as “the only fea­si­ble way to re­solve the is­sue of the dis­placed per­sons.” Mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der­way

Re­gard­ing ac­count­abil­ity for the events in Rakhine state, Mr. Swe re­ported that a mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion is cur­rently un­der­way.

“A re­cent an­nounce­ment sug­gests that there will soon be a court mar­tial,” he added.

Mr. Swe also ad­dressed an In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) re­quest to au­tho­rize an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged crimes in Rakhine State.

How­ever, he said “in­de­pen­dent schol­ars have al­ready iden­ti­fied the re­quest is prob­lem­atic in that it ex­cludes al­leged crimes com­mit­ted by the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army, with de­lib­er­ate omis­sion of the undis­puted fact that their ac­tions pre­cip­i­tated the cur­rent dis­place­ment.”

Other con­cerns cited in­clude that the ICC Pros­e­cu­tor “re­lies heav­ily on hu­man rights re­ports” which con­tain “fac­tual er­rors” on both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional law.

In Mr. Swe’s view, the ICC Pros­e­cu­tor is fo­cused on the out­flow from Rakhine state yet re­mains “si­lent” on what he called “the broader pic­ture” be­hind the dis­place­ment, as well as the var­i­ous par­ties in­volved.

“This si­lence widens the di­vide be­tween the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court and the peo­ple of Myan­mar who have been made to feel that their con­cerns are of less im­port than the per­cep­tions of in­flu­en­tial na­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions ac­quainted but su­per­fi­cially with the true sit­u­a­tion on the ground,” he said.

Photo: EPA

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