Officials from Myanmar and Bangladesh have met to “settle issues” over the repatriation of Rohingya Muslim refugees, who have fled a state-sponsored crackdown campaign in Rakhine State.
Officials from the two countries met in Naypyidaw on Monday over the repatriation deal that was signed last November, Bangladeshi officials familiar with the talks told AFP.
Under the deal, Myanmar vowed to repatriate the Muslim refugees, who have taken refuge in Bangladesh since the military launched a crackdown against the Muslim community in October 2016.
It does not cover an estimated 200,000 Rohingya refugees, who were living in Bangladesh prior to October 2016. According to the repatriation deal, Myanmar “would restore normalcy in Northern Rakhine (State) and to encourage those who had left Myanmar to return voluntarily and safely to their own households” or “to a safe and secure place nearest to it of their choice.”
Most Rohingya refugees, however, say they will not return to Myanmar, where their villages in the State of Rakhine have been torched, according to AFP. Myanmar’ government troops have been committing killings, making arbitrary arrests, and carrying out arson attacks in Muslim villages in Rakhine.
The UN says nearly 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the western state to Bangladesh since the bloody violence erupted last August. Doctors Without Borders says at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in state-sponsored violence in Myanmar only in a period of one month since August 25.
The Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for generations but are denied citizenship, and branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The UN has described a 1.1 million-strong Muslim community as the most persecuted minority in the world.—AFP