Myanmar is working to modify a 1993 agreement with Bangladesh allowing the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled the country amid armed clashes between ethnic insurgents and government security forces, a senior government official said.
The changes will be made in consultation with Bangladesh and will “add more points to the agreement,” Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary of the Department of Immigration and Population, on Tuesday told Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Myanmar Service.
“The agreement was inked in 1993, and it is now 2017,” Myint Kyaing said. “A very long time has passed, and the situation has changed.”
“Four major points from the 1993 agreement will remain the same, but we will add more points after discussing this with the Bangladesh side,” he said, without elaborating on which points would be kept and which would need to be added.
“Identification forms will be delivered only after both countries sign the agreement, and people will have to fill them out, stating where they were born in Rakhine state, in what year they were born, and what documentation they were holding when they lived in Rakhine,” he said.
“Refugees can return when a government-approved verification team approves ID forms. We will accept everyone back who will be approved,” he said.
Camps set up to receive returning refugees have now been erected in Taung Pyo Let Wae and Nga Khu Ya villages in northern Rakhine’s Maungdaw township, Myint Kyaing said.
“There is a bridge with checkpoints at each end in Taung Pyo Let Wae village,” Myint Kyaing said, adding, “If we see people coming in without approved forms, we can immediately send them back to the Bangladeshi border security team.”
Meanwhile, Thailand-based Women’s League of Burma (WLB) called on Tuesday for an end to what they described as “widespread propaganda” driving racial tensions and insecurity among Rakhine’s ethnic communities.
“WLB believes that this violence has been deliberately created and fuelled by certain groups who do not want sustainable peace in Burma,” the group said, using another name for Myanmar.