By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – A much-awaited meeting between a high-profile delegation team of Myanmar and representatives of Rohingya people ended in Bangladesh on Saturday evening without any breakthrough, local media reports said.
Both sides are still in long apart over issues like granting the most-demanded citizenship to the persecuted Rohingya people, the local Dhaka Tribune newspaper report said citing the sources to the meeting.
“The Myanmar side is still denying citizenship to Rohingya, which is our core demand,” the report quoted Rohingya leaders as saying.
“Without citizenship rights and safety guarantee we never return to Myanmar,” Mohammad Ansar Ali, a Rohingya Majhi, camp-based Rohingya leader, at Kutupalang camp told Anadolu Agency over telephone about the meeting.
He added that returning to Myanmar without ensuring safety and dignity means that they are again going to fall in persecution.
Pointing to the lone outcome of the meeting the report added that both sides have decided to sit again. “But the date and the venue are yet to be decided.”
A total of 35 leaders from different Rohingya communities attended the meeting which was also the first-ever interaction between persecuted people and the Myanmar government in Bangladesh since the August 2017 crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine State.
The high-level delegation of Myanmar, led by Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary U Myint Thu, arrived in Cox’s Bazar to meet Rohingya refugees on Saturday morning.
“The main purpose of the visiting team is to talk with Rohingya refugees in order to convince them to return to their home country [Myanmar],” Md. Delwar Hossain, director general of South Asian Desk of Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
- Persecuted people
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.