Bangladesh to ask Myanmar to take back Rohingyas
By News Desk
11 January 2017

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) -  Dhaka will make it clear that Rohingyas are citizens of Myanmar and it is Myanmar's responsibility to resolve the problems in Rakhine state.

Bangladesh will ask Myanmar to immediately take back its Rohingya population living in Bangladesh and to ensure a sustainable solution to the problem facing the Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country's Rakhine state. 

Dhaka's “deep concern” over the issue would be conveyed to U Kyaw Tin, the visiting special envoy of Aung San Suu Kiy and also Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, diplomatic and secretariat sources said.

The envoy, who is leading a diplomatic delegation, reached Dhaka last evening to discuss various bilateral issues with special focus on the Rohingya crisis.

Kyaw Tin is expected to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at 6:00 pm at the Gono Bhaban.

The delegation will also hold talks with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at 1:30pm at the state guesthouse Padma. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and other high officials from different ministries will attend the meeting.

During the talks, Dhaka will make it clear that Rohingyas are citizens of Myanmar and that it is Myanmar's responsibility to resolve the problems in Rakhine state. Bangladesh will also ask Myanmar to take back all registered and unregistered Rohingyas living in Bangladesh for many years, sources said.

The delegation will be reminded of the past agreements signed between the two countries, including the one in 1992, when Myanmar agreed to take back the Rohingyas and also admitted that Rohingyas are legally the citizens of Myanmar, they added. 

Myanmar did not issue any clear message about the topic of discussion, but its presidential spokesman Zaw Htay said on Monday that the team would “discuss the situation on the border”.

At least 65,000 Muslim Rohingyas have fled northwestern Myanmar for Bangladesh since October to escape a “counter-insurgency operation” by the military. Some 22,000 entered Bangladesh in the last one week alone, international media reported on Monday, quoting the UN relief agency.

A foreign ministry official said Bangladesh wanted a solution to the Rohingya issue and had already expressed readiness to engage with Myanmar to discuss the process and modalities of repatriation of Myanmar nationals.

On December 29, the foreign ministry summoned the Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka Myo Myint Than and demanded an early repatriation of all Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh.

The presence of undocumented Myanmar nationals has long been a sticking point between the two countries, with Bangladesh having repeatedly asked for repatriation of an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 that have been living illegally. This is in addition to some 32,000 registered Rohingya people living in the country for over two decades.

Amid international outcry, Director General Kyaw Zaya of Myanmar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 30 told Reuters that they would take back only 2,415 of its citizens from Bangladesh.

Myanmar authorities have been maintaining this number since 2010 but never started the process to take back those verified even before 2006.

As part of mounting international pressure on Myanmar, the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will come together in Kuala Lumpur on January 19 to discuss possible remedies to the situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Bangladesh will voice its concern and place its proposals at the meeting.

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