On Myanmar’s military junta’s latest remark

Published : 11 Feb 2021 08:19 PM | Updated : 12 Feb 2021 01:22 AM

Myanmar's army Chief Min Aung Hlaing latest remark over the repatriation of displaced Rohingyas sounds positive but it takes time to say something about the motive of the present Myanmar military Junta took over power on February 1.

On Monday, he said Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh during a 2017 crisis would continue to be repatriated to Rakhine state.

Earlier on February 1, Min Aung Hlaing ousted the Myanmar’s government, held Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders, declared state of emergency and announced military rule over the country for a year, throwing the displaced Rohingyas into an uncertainty over their repatriation.  

Soon after the military coup in Myanmar an uncertainty started looming large over the repatriation of Rohingyas.

But the military junta’s latest remark on Rohingya issue heaved a sigh a relief among refugees and Bangladesh as well.

Bangladesh has already made its stand clear that it has been 

persistent in developing mutually beneficial relations with 

Myanmar and has been working with the country for the 

voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingya 

people sheltered here

We think such positive approach will give confidence to Rohingyas for voluntary repatriation. And it is good news for Bangladesh and also a good beginning as well.

We also believe that the new military administration in Myanmar is reaching out to Rohingyas in Rakhine State which is seen as the military junta's "desire to gradually bring back normalcy" in the Rakhine state.

It has indeed been noticed that the ousted democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi delayed the process in many ways on various excuses while worldwide pressure continued mounting on Myanmar to address the repatriation of Rohingya refugees after her administration assumed power for a second consecutive term.

And Aung San Suu Kyi led democratic government had never been sincere in taking the displaced Rohingya refugee back to Myanmar.

Bangladesh has already made its stand clear that it has been persistent in developing mutually beneficial relations with Myanmar and has been working with the country for the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingya people sheltered here. And the country expects these processes to continue in the right earnest.

A Joint Working Group-level meeting was supposed to be held between Myanmar and Bangladesh this week. And we do still believe that the Rohingya repatriation issue can be settled down in the meeting when it will be taken place.

A counterinsurgency operation by Myanmar's military in 2017 involving mass rape, murders and the torching of villages drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh. Earlier Bangladesh briefed the Indian side about the recently held tripartite meeting among Bangladesh, Myanmar and China; and the roadmap ahead for repatriation. And Bangladesh expressed its hope that India would support in ensuring safety, security and sustainable livelihood of Rohingya once they cross the border through repatriation.

On the other hand, the process of relocating Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char from Cox's Bazar camps began.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, 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, entitled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience. 

As many as 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes burned down, while 113,000 others were vandalized.

However, considering the current situation, we hope that the democratic process and constitutional arrangements will be upheld in Myanmar and the Rohingya repatriation process will continue. Bangladesh firmly adheres to and promotes democratic ethos and as an immediate and friendly neighbor, it would like to see peace and stability in Myanmar.

SM Mizanur Rahman is Assistant Editor, Bangladesh Post