Rohingya repatriation process: Ensure human rights
As per the agreement signed between Dhaka and Naypyitaw on November 23, the repatriation process must start within two months of its signing. In the first phase, Dhaka is expected to hand over a list of one lakh Myanmar nationals staying in Bangladesh. However, it could not be known how many Rohingyas will be repatriated in the first phase as the Joint Working Group (JWG) is yet to complete the physical arrangements.
The Bangladesh government has already completed the database of 923,000 Rohingyas with fingerprints and other necessary information. Of them, 19,000 are displaced orphan children who arrived in Bangladesh during the persecution.
However, the Myanmar government has already sent application/verification forms for its Hindu nationals. But it could not be known whether it also sent such forms for the Muslim refugees. The draft of the physical arrangements for Rohingya repatriation was finalised at an inter-ministerial meeting at the foreign ministry and also at the meeting of the National Taskforce on Implementation of Strategy on Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented Myanmar Nationals.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said the first meeting of the JWG will be held in Naypyitaw by January 15, and the detailed physical arrangements for the repatriation will be finalised there.
On the other hand, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Myanmarese news organisation based in Thailand, a refugee camp has been set up at Taungpyoleiwei in northwestern Rakhine State for those returning overland from Bangladesh, and a second one at Ngakhuya in Maungdaw Township for those returning by sea or waterways. Win Myat Aye, Myanmar minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement, made this announcement after talks between the government and representatives of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) in Naypyitaw.
A senior diplomat at the Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka also told that arrangements are being made to receive the displaced people from Rakhine from January 22 on completion of two months since the signing of the repatriation agreement.
As per the repatriation agreement signed on November 23, Myanmar will provide the necessary forms to be filled by the prospective returnees. They need copies of documents issued in Myanmar indicating their residence, such as old and expired citizenship ID cards/national registration cards/ temporary registration cards (white cards) and any other documents issued by the relevant Myanmar authorities or other documents or information such as addresses, reference to household and other particulars and information.
During this repatriation process government must demonstrate its real commitment to human rights. It is important to take necessary steps to ensure that otherwise there will be no permanent solution of this crisis.