Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed an accord over terms for the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled their country due to the ongoing persecution by Buddhist militias and the Myanmar army.
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee Myanmar due to the ongoing persecution by Buddhist militias and the Myanmar army.
Human rights groups have accused the Myanmar army of carrying out mass rape and murder during an operation launched in late August in retaliation in the Rakhine state.
Myanmar’s ministry of labour, immigration and population said: “We are ready to take them back as soon as possible after Bangladesh sends the forms back to us.”
Before returning to Myanmar, Rohingya refugees must write down their personal details on forms that will be given to the authorities.
The signing took place after a meeting between Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Bangladesh’s foreign minister, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, in Naypyitaw.
In its statement, Myanmar said the deal was based on the 1992-1993 repatriation pacts between the two countries that followed a previous episode of violence in Myanmar.
Although Western countries and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) highlighted the crisis as an international issue, Myanmar said it was resolved via two-way talks based on “friendly and good neighbourly relations”.
Suu Kyi’s office said: “Issues that emerge between neighbouring countries must be resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations.”
Amnesty International said it doubted there could be safe or dignified return of Rohingya.
refugees to Myanmar “while a system of apartheid remains” and added that it “hoped those who do not want to go home are not forced to do so.”
An Amnesty spokesperson said: “It is completely premature to be talking about returns when hundreds of Rohingya continue to flee persecution and arrive in Bangladesh on an almost daily basis.
“We’re also concerned that the UN…has been completely sidelined from this process. This does not bode well for ensuring a really robust voluntary repatriation agreement that meets international standards.”