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Myanmar willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya

Middle East

Myanmar willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya

Myanmar willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya

Says its security adviser; migration experts skeptical

Myanmar is willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh if they volunteer to return, the country’s National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said yesterday.

He was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference in Singapore, where he was asked if the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where most Rohingya live, could trigger use of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) framework of the United Nations, reports Reuters.

The so-called R2P framework was adopted at the 2005 UN World Summit in which nations agreed to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and accepted a collective responsibility to encourage and help each other uphold this commitment.

“If you can send back 700,000 on a voluntary basis, we are willing to receive them,” Thaung Tun said. “Can this be called ethnic cleansing?

“There is no war going on, so it’s not war crimes. Crimes against humanity, that could be a consideration, but we need clear evidence. These serious charges should be proved and they should not be bandied about lightly.”

International relations experts and Rohingya, however, termed such remarks as nothing but a stunt by Myanmar authorities, who have been denying citizenship and basic rights, including right to higher education, healthcare and free movement of Rohingya since 1982.

Since August 2017, about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a military crackdown in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, many reporting killings, rape and arson on a large scale, U.N. and other aid organisations have said.

The United Nations and aid agencies have described the crackdown on the Rohingya as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, an accusation Myanmar rejects.

Doctors Without Borders said at least 6700 Rohingya were killed in a month since the crackdown began on August 25 last year.

In various waves of influx, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh since 1980s. Though many of them returned to Rakhine, many others remained back. Before the latest influx, there were over 300,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh.

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