Rohingyas’ return to Myanmar

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked for the details about the Rohingya refugees so that the matter could be included in the upcoming talks between Washington and Yangon.

It seems to be a good sign towards a permanent solution to the issue of Rohingya refugee. The continued influx of the refugees from Myanmar affects the Bangladesh economy and environment negatively. Bangladesh achieved little success in its negotiations with Myanmar’s military junta in stopping the influx or the repatriation.

The Rohingyas repatriated before the involvement of the UNHCH in 90s got no guarantee from the Myanmar Junta about their respectable rehabilitation on return to Myanmar. The Rohingya had no organisation to represent them or deal with their issues internationally. The Citizenship Act 1982 adopted by Myanmar’s military regime snatched away the citizenship of the Rohingyas.

They are denied of their fundamental rights and compelled to leave their ancestral land, Arakan. Restrictions on their free movement within Arakan and on travel to the Myanmar capital force them to leave the country. Of Arakan’s two major ethnic groups — the Rakhines and the Rohingyas, under the Junta’s divide-and-rule policy the Rakhines are free from above restrictions due to religious discrimination. The Rohingyas repatriated to Arakan early in the 1990s, before the UNHCR came to the scene, became victims of persecution by the junta.

Obviously, Bangladesh should deal with the Rohingya issue carefully to repatriate the Rohingyas and stop their influx into Bangladesh once for all. The government of Bangladesh should try to convince the UN and the USA to treat the issue of Rohingya refugees’ return with UN guarantee more seriously. For a resourceful Myanmar five times the size of Bangladesh, and one fourth its population, it should not shy away from taking the responsibility of its citizens.

Why the Myanmar people have to leave their country in search of livelihood or as political refugees is difficult to understand.


* First appeared in The Financial Express (Bangladesh)