Myanmar Not Serious About Rohingya Crisis

Myanmar Not Serious About Rohingya CrisisMyanmar Not Serious About Rohingya Crisis

A lawmaker said Myanmar restricts the free repatriation of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, despite signing an agreement with Dhaka to allow them the right of return.

Masoud Goudarzi, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, also told ICANA on Saturday that "Myanmar's government continues its harassment of [Rohingya] refugees and has made the return of Rohingya almost impossible".

He called on the United Nations to redouble efforts to find a way out of the burgeoning humanitarian crisis. Myanmar agreed on Nov. 26 to work with Bangladesh to repatriate some of the Rohingya piling into desperately overstretched refugee camps.

But the neighbors have struggled to settle on the details, including how many Rohingya will be allowed back in violence-scorched Rakhine State, where hundreds of villages have been burned.

More than 620,000 Rohingya are languishing in Bangladeshi refugee camps after fleeing a brutal Myanmar Army campaign launched in late August.

The UN and the United States have described the Myanmar military's actions as "ethnic cleansing", and rights groups have accused the security forces of committing atrocities, including mass rape, arson, pillage and killings amounting to crimes against humanity. In mid-November, Myanmar's military chief Min Aung Hlaing said it was "impossible to accept the number of persons proposed by Bangladesh".

  Controlled Repatriation

A Rohingya activist told Al Jazeera that he did not find any clear statement how these refugees will be repatriated.

"I'm not sure whether they will be allowed to return to their original village.

Myanmar's minister for resettlement and welfare said they will repatriate maximum 300 refugees a day. So it can take up to two decades to repatriate all those refugees," Nay San Lwin said.

Goudarzi slammed Myanmar's "controlled repatriation" of the Rohingya, warning that "if the free return of the refugees is stymied, then the living conditions for those who could make it to return would be much harder [than the pre-crisis conditions]".

"Myanmar's government is pursuing a political agenda here," he said.

Lawmaker Abolfazl Hassanbeigi criticized the UN for its mishandling of the staggering plight of the Rohingya, noting that inaction has emboldened Myanmar's Army to continue its atrocities.

"Unfortunately, the UN has lost its effectiveness here. Just issuing reports, which carry no legal obligations, has called into question the role of UN," he said. The scale of how immune Myanmar's Army feels recently came to the fore when Pope Francis—a forthright leader who usually condemns countries for their inhuman approach toward refugees—visited the country last week.

Upon the advice of some people, including former UN secretary-general, Kofi Anan, he did not even mention "Rohingya" during his stay in Myanmar, an embarrassment that many believe shows how the situation regarding the oppressed Rohingya has resulted in all talk and no action.

On Monday, Myanmar's powerful army chief told Pope that "Myanmar has no religious discrimination at all. Likewise, our military too ... performs for the peace and stability of the country."


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