The Rohingya community must be taken on board in any repatriation process to Myanmar and problems concerning their basic rights including citizenship should be resolved beforehand, the community’s leaders demanded.
The persecuted community is also wary of China’s involvement in the process unless the Rohingya are consulted and Myanmar is pushed to prepare the grounds for their return.
“The Rohingya want to go home as early as possible… [However,] Myanmar did not create a conducive environment, nor is there any evidence that indicates a change of attitude,” Hla Myint, a senior member of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Last week, Myanmar agreed to calls by Bangladesh at a tripartite meeting facilitated by China to start the much-awaited repatriation of Rohingya in the second quarter of this year.
Bangladesh has pushed hard to begin the repatriation, but Myanmar has been delaying it, seeking time for logistical arrangements.
“Myanmar tries to foil the [repatriation] process through delaying tactics,” Myint confirmed, adding the Buddhist-majority country had assented in earlier agreements to repatriate the Rohingya refugees but failed.
Referring to China’s recent steps to facilitate the repatriation, he said the economic ties between China and Myanmar mean that “international crimes can continue unabated because profit is placed before people.”
“China is a regional superpower, economic tiger and neighbor of Myanmar. It has invested heavily in Myanmar. Its projects in Myanmar are not only economically important, but it is geo-politically very crucial,” he said.
However, he said “China can play a role in a transparent and inclusive mediation process and it can also address the Rohingya citizenship issue. But that is a big ‘if’.”
Kyaw Win, executive director of the Burma Human Rights Network, described the current steps taken for repatriation as a “very bad tool for resettlement.”
“We are concerned that some Rohingya feel pressured to return because the conditions of the camps are inadequate or because they fear Bangladesh may force them to go to the camps on Bhasan Char island,” Win said.