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Envoy: Accountability crucial for voluntary return of Rohingyas

  • Published at 11:02 am November 4th, 2018
Rohingya camp
File Photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

At least 700,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh fleeing violence which erupted in Myanmar on August 25, 2017

Accountability is crucial to build confidence in the Rohingyas for them to voluntarily return; without this, repatriation will not be sustainable, Bangladesh says.

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Masud Bin Momen stated this during the general debate of the General Assembly about the Human Rights Council’s report, in New York, recently.

He said: "While our continued efforts and readiness for the safe, voluntary, and dignified repatriation of Rohingyas, to their original place of abode in the Rakhine state, are about to see fruition, one should, therefore, not be oblivious of the imperativeness of ensuring accountability for the gravest atrocities perpetrated against them."

Ambassador Momen said accountability is crucial for bilateral instruments to be implemented, and hence should be pursued earnestly, reports UNB.

He said: "We wish to reiterate our commitment to work closely with the Human Rights Council in the coming days."

During the last Council session, Bangladesh had taken interest in the follow up to the work of UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.

Masud Bin Momen said: "We reiterate our appreciation for the Fact-Finding Mission for its authoritative work on documenting evidence-based information – on the gravest crimes under international law – committed against the Rohingya and other forcibly displaced people from Myanmar's Rakhine State."

He said they believe the Council had yet again taken decisive action in renewing the mandate of the Fact-Find Mission, and in deciding to establish an ongoing investigation mechanism to collate, analyze, and preserve the evidence of atrocities against the Rohingyas—and others affected.

Bangladesh maintains that the possibility for repatriation of the Rohingyas to Myanmar can be realized only in an environment that restores Rohingya’s: safety, dignity, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

"We see the Human Rights Council's engagement as an effort to safeguard the interests of the Rohingyas, and other minorities in the Kachin and Shan States, from the systematic human rights violations they had been subjected to so far," Ambassador Momen said.

He said the outright rejection of the Council's overtures to Myanmar can be construed by those affected as continued denial by the concerned State of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including a pathway to citizenship for the Rohingyas.

He added: "We regret Myanmar's non-cooperation with the Fact-Finding Mission and the Special Rapporteur so far. The question of the objective of the Mission or the Special Rapporteur could be raised only if Myanmar had constructively engaged with them."

Bangladesh has been reelected to the Human Rights Council, for the 2019 to 2021 term, representing the Asia-Pacific Group.

Ambassador Momen said Bangladesh is fully committed to redeeming its pledges and commitments—as well as upholding the high objectives of the Council.

During the terms of the present government, Bangladesh has twice been elected to the Council— which is recognition of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's unstinting efforts to uphold the rights and dignity of people, he said.

Bangladesh’s delegation finds the Universal Periodic Mechanism (UPR) a useful tool at the hand of the Human Rights Council to engage with each member state on human rights issues.

"We did our Universal Periodic Review, in May this year, during which the international community highly praised our good practices in upholding human rights," Ambassador Momen said.

He said Bangladesh, as an elected member to the Council, will continue to promote such constructive mechanisms of the Council in the coming days.

Council membership reflects the diversity of the comity of nations, and is integral to the ownership and effectiveness of its work.

The ambassador furthered: "We do not subscribe to the idea of refusing to engage with a mandate holder on the basis of his or her individual identity.

“If questions are raised about his or her objectivity, or impartiality, the concerned Member States, and others concerned, should continue to remain engaged in the interest of promoting a balanced approach.”

After the military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25 last year, more than 700,000 Rohingyas – mostly children and women – crossed over to Bangladesh.

They joined more than 400,000 refugees who were already living in squalid, cramped camps in Cox’s Bazar.

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