Japan offers to mediate Rohingya repatriation

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at a state guest house in Dhaka on July 30, 2019. Photo: PID

Special Correspondent
Japan has offered to mediate Rohingya crisis, a stalemate situation between bangladesh and Myanmar .
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono convey the desire to his Bangladesh counterpart during his visit to Dhaka.
While talking to reporters after a bilateral meeting in on Thursday, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said, “Japan is also willing to mediate talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar in Tokyo.”
Kono arrived in Dhaka on Monday night on an official visit to hold bilateral meeting and meet Rohingya people sheltered in Cox’s Bazar. He visited the Rohingya camps and talked with those people who were forced to flee Rakhine State and take shelter in Cox’s Bazar.
This is his third visit to Bangladesh and second with particular focus on Rohingya. Before the bilateral meeting, he visited the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi to pay homage to Father of the Nation Bagabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Japan is a good friend and strong development partner of Bangladesh, said Momen. “We have told them if the Rohingya issue is not resolved, their investments on both sides of the border will be hampered due to potential pockets of radicalization.”
“In their own interests, in Myanmar’s interests, this issue should be resolved, “he said.
“I have requested him to convey the message to Myanmar to take them (Rohingya) back as soon as possible,” Dr Abdul Momen said. “Japan proposed to us if necessary they are ready to hold talks in Tokyo between Bangladesh and Myanmar”.
Japanese FM visits Rohingya camp
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono today visited the Rohingya camp in Kutupalong of Cox’s Bazar today.
He also talked to the Rohingya people living at the camp about their problems and demands to get an overview of the situation there.
One Rohingya youth Enamul Hasan, also a teacher at the camps, told the Japanese foreign minister that they do not want to be dependent on Bangladesh for a long time, adding that they want to go back to their country.
“We have only one demand, which is the citizenship of their own country Myanmar,” he added.
Some 750,000 Rohingyas fled atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State after August 25, 2017. In clashes between the Myanmar army and the Arakan Army since early this year, thousands more were displaced.
Myanmar team visits Rohingya camp
Meanwhile, a 19-member government delegation of Myanmar led by Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Myint Thu last week visited Rohingya camps at Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar
The team held a meeting with the government officials and talked to a group of Rohingyas consisted of seven females and 28 males.
Later, a Rohingya leader informed journalists that the Myanmar team urged them to go back to their own home in Rakhaine state.
He said team leader Myint also gave them an idea about the facilities they would get after their return to Myanmar.
At that time, Rohingyas placed their demands to the Myanmar team which includes ensuring their citizen rights and freedom of movement after their repatriation.
However, no assurance in this regard came from the Myanmar , Rohingya leaders said.
Meanwhile, Rohingyas of Extension Camp-4 staged a peaceful demonstration during the visit of Myanmar delegation to Ukhiya Kutupalong camp. They carried play cards with their demands.
Members of the Myanmar team observed the protest but made no comments. Rather, they passed the area in smiling face and talked to the Rohingyas.
Refugee and Relief Commissioner Md. Abul Kalam said the delegation talked to the officials of different international agencies to know about the present condition of Rohingyas.
The visit of the Myanmar delegation was aimed to convey the preparation of the Myanmar government and pursue them to go back to their home in Myanmar, he said.
About 1.1 million Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh following mass murder, rape and other sorts of atrocities loomed large in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 2017. They are now living in 30 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar district.
Myanmar agreed for repatriation of Rohingyas under a bilateral agreement. But, the deal found no headway due to lack of any tangible action of the Myanmar and refusal of the refugees to go back to their homeland amid uncertainty and insecurity.
Myanmar’s internal issue
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the Rohingya citizenship issue was an internal affair of Myanmar and Bangladesh would not like to be taken hostage on the matter.
“Our focus is on their (Rohingyas) dignified and safe return …. We don’t have any issue regarding their citizenship there,” he said while interacting with a group of newsmen at his office at the foreign ministry here.
Momen said Myanmar has expressed its plan for the first time to provide the Rohingyas “part to citizenship” or “natural citizenship” and it’s a “breakthrough”.
The foreign minister said he observed positive sign from the visiting Myanmar delegation. “It’s a good sign. What they are offering this is part to citizenship and it’s a good deal,” he added.
Momen said the Rohingyas should go back to their motherland to realize their rights and “they (Rohingyas) should understand, it’s not possible to realize their all demands (citizenship) unless they are going back (to Rakhine)”.
Bangladesh last week handed over a list of more 25,000 verified Rohingyas belonging to 6,000 families to Myanmar for repatriation
Bangladesh earlier handed over a list of 30,000 Rohingyas in two phases and among them Myanmar by now already verified 8,000 for repatriation in the first batch.

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