By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - An international human rights watchdog has described recent talks between the Rohingya representatives and the Myanmar delegation, as "disappointing".
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that during the talks, the Myanmar delegation failed to make a convincing case for the safe return of refugees.
The 10-member delegation, led by the Permanent Secretary of the Myanmar Foreign Ministry, Myint Thu arrived at the sprawling refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh earlier this week, to discuss the repatriation of the Rohingya population.
The HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said that the Myanmar officials, armed with "facts" and colorful brochures, tried to persuade the displaced population to return home, claiming it was safe.
"They did not even use the term Rohingya," Ganguly said, quoting a refugee.
She said it reminded the Myanmar government’s longstanding unwillingness to recognize the ethnic group.
The Myanmar team also explained the categories of citizenship and promoted the government’s National Verification Card (NVC) process.
"Many Rohingya despise this deeply flawed process, which they view as a perpetuation of the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law, which has effectively left them stateless in their own country," she said.
Urging the international community to put pressure on Myanmar, she said the Naypyitaw government needs to ensure that the Rohingya return to a better place, where they can become citizens, have freedom of movement, access services, and rebuild their livelihoods.
"To do this the authorities also need to take steps to ensure justice and redress," she added.
- 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.