By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - A weeklong meeting between a 22-member high-level delegation from Myanmar and the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s camps concluded this week with little outcomes or no significant progress, according to Rohingya leaders and Bangladeshi authorities.
The representatives came to Bangladesh on March 15 and stayed for a week near the Rohingya camps in the southern border district of Cox’s Bazar to verify a list of the persecuted Rohingya Muslims for repatriation.
In the wake of repeated pressures from Bangladesh, the host country of nearly 1.2 million Rohingya, and the international community, Myanmar military junta sent the representatives to verify 429 Rohingya refugees who were enlisted by Bangladesh for the first phase of repatriation.
Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammed Mizanur Rahman told Anadolu that the repatriation process is very complicated and time-consuming.
Earlier, Myanmar authorities demanded some documents from the Rohingya before starting the repatriation process.
“After door-to-door visits to 222 Rohingya families, we collected some papers from 125 families and informed Myanmar and the representatives also verified those papers,” Rahman said.
He added that for newborn babies in Rohingya camps, the Myanmar authorities are demanding court certificates.
“We are also managing court certificates for Rohingya babies in collaboration with concerned ministries and departments of the Bangladesh government,” the refugee commissioner said, adding that Myanmar’s representatives also verified those documents and interviewed nearly 500 Rohingya.
The team asked Rohingya very sensitive questions like the names of villages in Myanmar and the names of their neighbors.
“I don’t understand why they are making the whole process so complicated. They should understand that no Bangladeshis are interested in migrating to Myanmar. If they go this way it will take a huge time to repatriate over one million Rohingya,” Rahman said.
Speaking to Anadolu, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s congested camps accused the Myanmar military junta of harassing them.
“We are genocide survivors. Most of us fled just with a single cloth while many of us were brutally murdered by Burmese [Myanmar] armies. How can we submit documents now?” said Mohammad Amanullah, a Rohingya at the Kutupalang refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar.
Speaking to Anadolu over the telephone, another Rohingya Mohammad Ansar, who is now living in the Bhasan Char island settlement, said that Myanmar would never take us back so easily.
“Without due pressure from the international community, the Burmese junta will just waste time under various pretexts and the repatriation issue will be hanged in balance,” Ansar said.
At present, around 35,000 Rohingya are living at Bhasan Char Island, a remote southern island in the Bay of Bengal where Bangladesh has developed concrete settlements to relocate 100,000 Rohingya, claiming it is better for living for the forcibly displaced people than the mainland camps.
Mojib Ullah, a member of the Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU) task force, told Anadolu that such a meeting or verification move by the Myanmar authorities is nothing but an eyewash to divert the attention of the international community.
“They [the Myanmar government] are just wasting time and they are not showing any sign that they are really cordial to start the repatriation,” Mojib Ullah added.
He alleged that there were no sustainable developments in Rakhine State for taking back the Rohingya to their original places from where they were ousted.
“They are just trying to take some of us to the IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps inside Myanmar and that is another open prison,” the ARU leader said referring to such an incident that happened during another persecution in 2012.
The Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination under successive Myanmar governments which revoked their citizenship, rendering them stateless.
Thousands of Rohingya are currently living in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, most of whom fled Myanmar since August 2017 to escape the military’s crimes against humanity and possible genocide, according to Human Rights Watch.