‘Ensure security of Rohingyas before their repatriation’

Md Enamul Hassan

8 November, 2018 12:00 AM printer

International affairs analysts of Bangladesh and the United Nations have called for ensuring guarantee of security of Rohingya people in the Rakhine State of Myanmar before their repatriation.

The call was given when Bangladesh and Myanmar have reached an agreement to begin repatriation of the Rohingya people to their homes in the middle of the current month.

International community, including the UN and its agencies, have also come down heavily on the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh over an agreement to start repatriation of the Rohingya people.

They have also asked for immediate stoppage of the repatriation plan as Myanmar had failed to provide guarantees that the hapless Rohingyas would not suffer again the same persecution and horrific violence. Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, on Tuesday implored Bangladesh to shelve plans to start repatriating Rohingyas to Rakhine State this month.

“I have not seen any evidence of the Government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment where the Rohingya people can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed,” she added. Lee has repeatedly said that any return before the root causes of the crisis were dealt with was highly premature and unjust. She has received credible information from the displaced people in Cox’s Bazar that they are in deep fear of their names being on the list to be repatriated causing distress and anguish.

Lee reiterated that the refugees must be given the opportunity to participate in the process, as it was their decision alone to return to Myanmar.

She said any return under current conditions where there is high risk of persecution,  may violate obligations under customary international law to uphold the principle of non-refoulement.

She said Myanmar has reportedly been developing the area from which the Rohingya fled, but building some physical infrastructure to house returnees does not resolve these issues.

Living safely and in a dignified manner includes a right to citizenship, freedom of movement, and access to services, health, education and livelihoods, she said.

Lee urged the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar to halt these rushed plans for repatriation, to ensure the protection of Rohingyas.

She also called for adherence to their international human rights and refugee law obligations to ensure any return are safe, sustainable, voluntary and dignified.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have reached the agreement to begin repatriation despite UN investigators said genocide is still taking place against Rohingyas remaining in Myanmar.

Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said thousands of Rohingya were still fleeing to Bangladesh.

Around 250,000 to 400,000 who are still in Myanmar continue to suffer the most severe restrictions and repression, he continued.  It is an ongoing genocide, the chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar said at a news conference on October 24.

AKM Atiqur Rahman, former secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said to the daily sun that it is true there is no adequate safety and security arrangement for the returnees in Rakhine State, but if Bangladesh does not agree to begin repatriation, Myanmar will put blame on Bangladesh for delays in repatriation.

Myanmar has already been blaming Bangladesh saying that it has been making delays in repatriation for international aids, he noted.

“This is why I would like to say that let the process gets started and it will expose Myanmar’s ill motive at least, if they have at all,” he added. 

Over security, the former ambassador asked the UN to take the responsibility of safety and security of the returnees in Rakhine State.

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands Sigrid Kaag on Monday reminded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that the UN has raised question about the beginning of the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.

The visiting Dutch minister said her country put emphasis on voluntary, safe, secured, and dignified repatriation and she will carry the message to the Myanmar government as well.