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Bangladesh blasts Myanmar for propaganda against Dhaka

  • Published at 11:01 am November 24th, 2019
File Photo: Distressed rohngya women and children at a camp in Cox Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh said the crisis originated in Myanmar and the solution entirely lies there

Bangladesh has yet again come down heavily on Myanmar for its continued propaganda over the Rohingya repatriation, saying that Naypyitaw must stop unjustifiable campaign against Dhaka on the return of the persecuted people.

In a strongly-worded press statement issued on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry placed arguments, justifying that Bangladesh is always prepared to begin the repatriation.

However, Myanmar has yet to fulfill its obligations under the bilateral instruments to create an environment conducive to a sustained return of the forcibly-displaced people from Rakhine.

The statement by the foreign ministry was released in response to a statement from Myanmar's Ministry of the State Counsellor Office on November 15, where the spokesperson blamed Bangladesh’s non-cooperation and absence of respect towards bilateral instruments for the delayed repatriation of the Rohingyas

In addition to that, there was even harsh criticism of the international community for the recent initiatives on the accountability of the perpetrators for atrocity crimes.

The government of Bangladesh always stands ready to extend all possible cooperation to those who volunteer to return, the statement said, strongly denying the presence of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in Bangladesh.

Several Rohingya people standing outside the office of the camp-in-charge of Camp No 26, Shalbagan, Teknaf after appearing for an interview with UNHCR and RRRC representatives | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

“The continued relaying of fabricated information, misrepresentation of facts, unsubstantiated claims, and unwarranted accusations to unjustifiably shift the onus of the Rohingya crisis on Bangladesh testifies to the campaign of the government of Myanmar to avoid its obligations to create a conducive  environment in Rakhine to the sustained repatriation and reintegration of the forcibly displaced Rohingya in their homeland,” the statement said.

The statement further said: “It is an established fact that the Rohingya crisis resulted from the systematic disenfranchisement and brutal persecutions of this religious minority by the successive regimes in Myanmar. Continuation of the same by the present government is the sole reason for the gravity of the crisis."

The crisis originated in Myanmar and the solution entirely lies there. None other than Myanmar should be responsible for its prolongation, it added.

“Bangladesh has no interest in delaying the repatriation. The sincerity of Bangladesh in facilitating earliest repatriation of Rohingya as per bilateral instruments has been unquestionably established through its actions,” the Foreign Ministry's statement said.

Referring to the second attempt of Rohingya repatriation on August 22 in the presence of Myanmar official in Cox’s Bazar, it said the Rohingyas made it clear to the world media that they possess a strong desire to voluntarily return to their ancestral homeland, if and only if they are assured of safety, security and sustainable living in Rakhine.

“Myanmar must not expect Bangladesh to cooperate in repatriation in an uncertain environment in Rakhine,” it added.

* None other than Myanmar should be responsible for the prolongation of the crisis

*Propaganda intended to avoid responsibility and misguide international community

*Bangladesh always ready to extend all possible cooperation for voluntary Rohingya returns

*No ARSA activities in Bangladesh

The government reminded that Myanmar is under obligation to bring back normalcy in Rakhine and create an environment conducive to repatriation and reintegration of the Rohingya addressing the root causes, including safety and security, citizenship, freedom of movement, access to basic services and livelihood, return to places of origin or any nearest place of their choice. Moreover, Myanmar is entirely responsible to encourage the displaced Rohingya to return voluntarily.

Unfortunately, Myanmar has utterly failed to demonstrate any political will to fulfill its obligations and is trying to shift the onus on Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s claim of return of a handful number of people -- who are not verified-- using their personal contacts with Myanmar officials does not testify to any improvement of the ground reality in Rakhine. A recent comprehensive report on these returnees by Radio Free Asia rather reveals a total lack of preparedness in ensuring a favorable environment on the part of the Myanmar government. 

While Myanmar claims that the situation in Rakhine is hospitable enough for repatriation, it must allow the international community including UN officials, international media, and representatives of the prospective returnees to visit the places of return to assess the ground reality and help the returnees making an informed choice.

Myanmar always alleges that Rohingya do not dare to express their desire to return due to intimidation and negative propaganda by ARSA elements and NGO staff. It is totally baseless and must have originated out of some ulterior motive. The government of Bangladesh has taken adequate measures to ensure that the potential returnees are able to express their views on return without any influence or threat from any quarter.

Naypyitaw is carrying out such propaganda to avoid its responsibility and misguide the international community. There are no ARSA activities at Rohingya camps. It is not possible to operate terrorist bases anywhere in Bangladesh because of high alertness and effective preventive measures by the security forces in line with the “zero tolerance policy” of the present government.

Rohingya refugees leave after attending a demonstration at Camp No 4 (Extension) at Kutupalong's Modhurchhara in Ukhiya on August 25, 2019 | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

If Myanmar were really sincere about the repatriation, they should have by now arranged for the return of about 4,200 Rohingya from the “no man’s land” at Bangladesh-Myanmar border and resettled around 140,000 individuals from IDP camps in Rakhine to their respective places of origin.

To rehabilitate and reintegrate these people into their societies, Myanmar does not need any involvement of Bangladesh, Bangladesh side said.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas, who have fled their homeland in the Rakhine State of Myanmar after being persecuted by their own country. 

Bangladesh will continue allowing access to the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) of Myanmar including its Evidence Collection and Verification Team (ECVT), although reports of such previous enquiry bodies were highly controversial.

If Myanmar is really sincere about ensuring justice and ending the culture of impunity, it should extend full cooperation for ongoing international accountability initiatives.

The government of Bangladesh has consistently been pursuing the policy of good neighbourliness to resolve the protracted crisis through dialogues. Unjustifiable accusations on the part of a party, who is solely held responsible for the crisis, are totally unacceptable.

The Bangladeshi government rejects such baseless accusation, falsification, and misrepresentation of facts. The Government of Myanmar must stop such concocted campaign and rather concentrate on the fulfillment of its obligations so that the forcibly displaced Rohingya could return home in safe, dignified and voluntary manner.

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