Efforts on to resume tripartite talks over Rohingya repatriation

23 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Efforts are underway to resume tripartite talks among Bangladesh, China and Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation even though the negotiation with Myanmar remains halted for a long time due to the Covid situation and subsequent military coup in Myanmar, reports UNB.

Considering the repatriation that took place in 1978 and 1992 (under military government), Bangladesh remains “hopeful” about the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State despite the fact that a military government is in place, officials said.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone conversation with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday evening and he “assured us of taking an initiative” to resume tripartite talks – among Bangladesh, Myanmar and China- for the repatriation of Rohingya.

The Chinese Foreign Minister reiterated his government’s commitment regarding the Rohingya repatriation, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The last tripartite meeting was held in January this year when Bangladesh pushed Myanmar hard on creating a favourable environment for the repatriation with an expeditious verification process.

Bangladesh had handed over a list of 840,000 Rohingyas to Myanmar for verification but the verification process by the Myanmar side was very slow, Dhaka says.

The talks on Rohingya repatriation got halted as the military got back taking over the charge and declared a year-long state of emergency. It seized control on February 1 following a general election which Aung Aung Suu Kyi’s NLD party won by a landslide. “History tells us that Myanmar took back its citizens with dignity based on voluntary decisions in 1978 and 1992. We’re hopeful that Rohingyas will go back to Myanmar voluntarily with dignity,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told UNB.

He said Myanmar had been under military rule in the past too but Rohingyas were tortured during the democratic regime under Aung Sung Suu Kyi. Dr Momen said Bangladesh highlighted three issues after the military coup in Myanmar—Bangladesh wants democracy to flourish everywhere, wants peace instead of conflicts and Bangladesh expects that Myanmar will take back its citizens on a priority basis.

Just before the launching of the 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) recently, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh has been able to establish two things in the JRP - focus on Rohingya repatriation as a solution and making sure that Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char is a temporary arrangement until the repatriation takes place.

“We could reestablish two things in this JRP – one is repatriation and another is we didn’t allow it (Bhasan Char) to become a permanent mechanism,” he told a small group of journalists, including the UNB correspondent, at his office.

Shahriar said Bangladesh is focusing on repatriation, and Bhasan Char is a temporary arrangement though many had tried to make it a permanent mechanism.

Earlier, repatriation attempts failed twice in November 2018 and August 2019 amid Rohingyas’ lack of trust in the Myanmar government. Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district and Bhasan Char.