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Foreign minister: Amnesty report won’t affect Rohingya repatriation talks

  • Published at 02:26 pm May 23rd, 2018
  • Last updated at 06:07 pm May 23rd, 2018
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali briefing reporters on the prime minister’s upcoming visit to Kolkata, India at his office in Dhaka on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Courtesy

Amnesty International claims it has gathered evidence that insurgents from a Rohingya Muslim armed group killed scores of Hindu civilians in August last year, amid a surge in violence in western Myanmar

The government has ruled out any negative impact over the ongoing Rohingya repatriation talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar because of Amnesty International's (AI) new report saying people these days do not believe their stuff.

"I do not think the ongoing discussion (over Rohingya repatriation) will be affected. It (AI's claim) is nothing logical. Nobody believes it," Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said on Wednesday while briefing reporters at his office on the prime minister’s upcoming visit to Kolkata, India.

He questioned why the AI came up with the report so late, saying they might have some intention behind it.

The AI report on Wednesday claimed a Rohingya armed group brandishing guns and swords was responsible for at least one, and potentially a second, massacre of up to 99 Hindu women, men, and children as well as additional unlawful killings and abductions of Hindu villagers in August 2017.

The foreign minister wondered about the AI’s source of information regarding many issues they were talking about.

Earlier, international analyst Prof Ali Riaz said if the Myanmar military and government tried to use this as a justification for their brutal actions and shift the blame to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), it would only reveal their duplicitous nature.

"It'll appear very pathetic," the professor of the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University in the US told UNB.

He said the AI report was disconcerting, particularly to know that common people had been targeted for their religious and ethnic identities. "Such heinous acts should to be condemned unequivocally."

Those who have committed such horrific acts must be brought to justice, he added.

Also Read- Amnesty: Rohingya insurgents killed Hindu villagers in Myanmar

Prof Riaz, however, said these dreadful acts by the ARSA members by no means exonerate the Myanmar authorities of their disproportionate response and their pre-planned acts of crimes against humanity.

He said this discovery along with the crimes committed by the Myanmar government underscored the necessity for immediate transparent and full investigation into the nature and scope of the crimes committed by various groups.

"That's why it is imperative that Myanmar government provide unconstrained access to Rakhine state to international human rights groups and the UN. Let's not forget that it's the Myanmar government which is standing on the way of a full investigation," Riaz observed.

He said if Myanmar wanted to help the international community to hold ARSA accountable for its crimes, it cannot continue to deny its own responsibilities.

The AI said based on dozens of interviews conducted in Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh, as well as photographic evidence analyzed by forensic pathologists, the organization revealed how ARSA fighters sowed fear among Hindus and other ethnic communities with these brutal attacks.

"Our latest investigation on the ground sheds much-needed light on the largely under-reported human rights abuses by ARSA during northern Rakhine state's unspeakably dark recent history," said Amnesty’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan.

Responding to a question on India's position, Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali said: "This is not correct that India is doing nothing."

He said he felt sorry that the same question had been raised even though he addressed it several times. "May be you did not notice (what I said on India's position). And I'm very sad about that."

Asked about the repatriation of Rohingyas, the minister said he would not give any timeframe. "But I'm hopeful."

He said the entire world was with Bangladesh and the pressure on Myanmar was building up. "International pressure is increasing gradually on Myanmar. Things are moving."

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on November 23, 2017.

On January 16, both countries also signed a document on the physical arrangement that would facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh and also stipulates that the repatriation would be completed preferably within two years from the start of process.

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