Dipu Moni urges Burma to resume Rohingya repatriation

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni urged for Burmese authorities to resume the voluntary repatriation of Burmese refugees in Bangladesh during the ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting.

“Bangladesh FM held a meeting with the Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin during the sidelines of the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial Meeting in Brunei” on July 2, according to a government official.

Bangladesh also offered full cooperation with the Burmese government to promote socio-economic development in Burma, including Arakan State.  But Depu Moni stressed the importance of addressing the citizenship issue for Muslim minorities in the state.

“The process could start once the housing and relocation of the Muslim minority people currently residing in makeshift camps in the Arakan State were completed,” said the Burmese foreign minister.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar would be able to resolve this outstanding issue in the spirit of good neighborly relations existing between the two countries,” Dipu Moni said.

Dhaka also pushed Naypyidaw for more dialogue regarding border security, especially related to criminal networks and their activities.

Wunna Maung Lwin assured that there would be follow up on Bangladesh’s proposal to establish an institutional mechanism to enhance dialogue between the two border security forces.

The UNHCR along with Bangladesh government repatriated 21,117 refugees in 1997, according to sources.

Since then, however, repatriation has been put on hold following the failure of the Bangladesh government to clear the re-entry of 13,582 refugees out of the remaining total of 21,117. Only 7,535 got permission but those refused re-entry blocked their repatriation.

“Most of the Rohingya refugees are unwilling to go back to their own country as they worry about their livelihood and security,” said a refugee leader.

In 1978, about 300,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh as a result of persecution committed by the Burmese government. Many were repatriated back to their country of residence. However, soon after the government enacted the “Citizenship law 1982” discarding their citizenship rights, Bangladesh experienced another phase of huge influx of Rohingyas in 1991-92.

Discrimination, torture and inhuman treatment committed by the law enforcing agencies are still ongoing in Burma and many new refugees are fleeing to Bangladesh.
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