Toronto, February 14: Even as Bangladesh continues to host close to one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, the Sheikh Hasina government wants to begin the process of repatriating them back to Myanmar sooner rather than later. To begin this process, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister has called for India along with Russia and China to help monitor a ‘safe zone’ in the state of Rakhine, Myanmar to which the Rohingya would be sent back to.
In an interview with Anadolu news agency, AK Abdul Momen said, "If a safe zone is created under the vigilance of India, China, and Russia along with the ASEAN states, Rohingya people will be encouraged to return to their own land.”
Momen said the main goal is to "repatriate them to their country of origin with due dignity and safety", asking help from two of Myanmar’s biggest neighbours.
A pre-condition to the repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar would be the granting of Myanmarese citizenship to all the refugees. However this condition seems hard to achieve as the Rohingya have been rendered stateless as the Myanmar government does not consider them ethnically from their country and in fact says they were brought as labourers from Bangladesh during colonial times.
The Rohingya have been treated as infiltrators by the Myanmar government and subjected to a brutal crackdown including extra-judicial killings, disappearances, raping of women and young girls and burning down entire villages in the state of Rakhine. The United Nations has accused the military junta of Myanmar of crimes against humanity for its action in the state of Rakhine.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation deal in November 2017 with a two-year time-frame to return the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. But, the UN has said that prevailing conditions in Myanmar do not support the repatriation of Rohingya refugees.