Bangladesh minister wants UN in tripartite deal to return Rohingyas to Myanmar

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has proposed that a tripartite arrangement between Bangladesh, UN, and Myanmar be agreed for smooth repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

Published : 20 Sept 2017, 05:05 PM
Updated : 20 Sept 2017, 07:17 PM

“The repatriation issue must be done in a tripartite way. Bangladesh, Myanmar and the UN, meaning the encompassing international authorities, will be the parties," he said.

“You want verification before repatriation. But who will verify the Rohingyas?” Inu asked.

"Lists will be made in this arrangement for citizenship, compensation and rehabilitation of the Rohingyas.”

His remarks came during a discussion on Wednesday, a day after Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s pledge to take back verified refugees.

The proposal also came a time when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was scheduled to place her peace formula on the Rohingya crisis at the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking at the discussion at the Secretariat, Inu said, “Myanmar government and Suu Kyi want to zip the issue between Bangladesh and Myanmar. This is not good for Bangladesh.”

Bangladesh is now providing shelter to some 800,000 Rohingya refugees, of whom over 400,000 arrived when Myanmar Army launched a violent crackdown against the ethnic minority after insurgent attacks on police posts and an army base on Aug 25.

Myanmar had taken back over 200,000 Rohingya refugees following an agreement with Bangladesh in 1992. The repatriation process of the Rohingyas stalled later.

After the start of the recent wave of Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said the government had approached Myanmar for a bilateral solution to the crisis, but the neighbour did not respond.

Hundreds of thousands of other Rohingyas are living refugee lives in several other countries including Pakistan, Malaysia and India.

Information Minister Inu said there cannot be any bilateral solution because the  Rohingya crisis was an international one.

Association of Television Channel Owners or ATCO organised the programme titled “Diplomatic Efforts, Role of Media and Sheikh Hasina’s Steps for Peace: A Three-Phase Approach”.

Inu said Suu Kyi’s speech on the situation in Rakhine was ‘not acceptable’ because she did not mention the plights of the Rohingya people.

Facing widespread criticism over the Rakhine situation, the de facto head of government skipped the UN General Assembly and instead came up with her government’s stance on the issue in her speech.

Her pledge for repatriation after verification, however, “showed some hope” because Suu Kyi “at least admitted that Myanmar nationals entered Bangladesh”, Inu said.

“It’s a good progress. It means Suu Kyi has initially admitted following the 'three-phase approach', which includes diplomatic efforts. It’s an early achievement,” he said.

The minister also urged all not to pitch for any military solution to the issue.

“Those who are provoking a military war are also causing damage to the Rohingyas, Bangladesh and the region,” he said, emphasising a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

“Please bear in mind that problems take place between neighbours. There were problems in our Chittagong Hill Tracts. Bangladesh’s refugees took shelter in India. Neither India nor Bangladesh attacked each other.”

“…We can wage a war and push some Rohingyas, but they (Myanmar) will throw them out again after our army leaves.

“So, we must show diplomatic skills in handling this issue,” the minister said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher