Myanmar has tentatively agreed to take back the Rohingya under certain conditions. But this is nowhere near enough.
After driving out nearly half a million Rohingya from the Rakhine state and into neighbouring Bangladesh, after all the torture and deaths and burned down houses, does Myanmar expect it to be that simple?
For one thing, what are the implications of repatriation if Myanmar continues to deny citizenship to the Rohingya? Without solving the underlying problems of discrimination and oppression, we may even see another round of uprising, followed by military intervention, thus continuing the cycle.
On the other hand, the repatriated Rohingya will have to build their lives all over again — as their villages have been destroyed — but they do not have the resources to do so. The Myanmar government must, therefore, provide compensation and support to the victims, as well as ensure their safety and security.
What also needs to stop is the Myanmar government’s continuous dishonesty and doublespeak regarding the situation. They have lied about who the perpetrators were, they have lied about the so-called killings of the Rohingya, and they have lied about the very fact that they have, actively and without mercy, attempted to carry out what can only be called an ethnic cleansing.
Myanmar needs to own up to what it has done.
Inexplicably, the Myanmar delegate has also insisted on “verifying” the identities of refugees before repatriation. How exactly does he expect these people, who were forced to flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs, to provide such verification?
Myanmar’s willingness to enter into talks about repatriation is a welcome step but inundated with flaws.Unless they address these and other related issues, we won’t have a successful or sustainable road to repatriation.
Dhaka Tribune, October 4, 2017