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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Myanmar and Bangladesh sign deal over return of Rohingya

Rohingiya will be able to return back

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DHAKA, Bangladesh - As part of a new deal between Myanmar and Bangladesh, now tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled across their mutual border to escape violence in Rakhine state will be able to return back.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka said in a statement that Myanmar had agreed to take back the Muslim Rohingya refugees sheltering in neighboring Bangladesh.

On Thursday, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Myanmar’s Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe signed the bilateral agreement in Myanmar.

According to reports, as part of the agreement, the refugee’s return is expected to start within two months. 

Further, officials said in a statement that a joint working group will be established in the next three weeks to oversee the repatriation. 

Since August, when the crisis was sparked due to militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launching attacks on 25 police and army posts, killing a dozen security officials in Rakhine state and prompting retaliation by Myanmar’s army.

Refugees who fled to Bangladesh said their homes were set on fire by soldiers and Buddhist mobs, and some reported being shot at by security forces.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, a statement from the Myanmar minister’s office said the matter had been resolved amicably after a meeting between Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Ali.

Myanmar has described the arrangement as a "win-win situation for both countries” and said in a statement, “The principled position of Myanmar is that issues that emerge between neighboring countries must be resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations.”

The office of Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi said the agreement follows a formula set in a 1992 repatriation agreement signed by the two nations after an earlier spasm of violence.

Under that agreement, Rohingya were required to present residency documents, which few have, before being allowed to return to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. 

Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina was quoted as saying by the United News of Bangladesh news agency, “We’re continuing our bilateral talks with Myanmar so that these Myanmar nationals [Rohingya] could return to their country. It’s my call to Myanmar to start taking back soon their nationals from Bangladesh.”

The agreement has been signed merely a day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya as “ethnic cleansing."

Tillerson said in a statement that “after a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.” 

He added that the U.S. would work through the United Nations and also “pursue accountability through U.S. law, including possible targeted sanctions.”

 

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