Suu Kyi’s Rohingya comments surprise Dhaka

Dhaka has expressed surprise at Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent comments about Rohingyas in the Rakhine state being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

In a press statement on Sunday, the foreign ministry expressed surprise at such comments since these are clearly at inconsistency from the position of the Myanmar government and the action taken by them to resolve the issue over the last several years.

Aung San Suu Kyi on November 13 in India described violence in west Myanmar between Buddhists and Muslims as a “huge international tragedy” and said illegal immigration from Bangladesh had to be stopped.

Giving a long historical background, the foreign ministry particularly mentioned that that the Myanmar government has accepted 236,599 Myanmar refugees of Rohingya ethnicity after their own process of verification.

“There is, therefore, no question that these people had moved from Myanmar into Bangladesh,” the statement said adding “it is the sincere expectation of Bangladesh government that all concerned will refrain from making statements that are without any basis in fact.”

Bangladesh will remain engaged with Myanmar for a durable solution to this outstanding issue in the spirit of good neighbourliness, it added.

The statement said historic evidence shows that people of Rohingya ethnicity have been living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar for centuries, whereas Bangladesh came into existence only in 1971.

There is therefore, no reason to ascribe Bangladesh nationality to these people living in the Rakhine state since before 16th December 1971.

Subsequent to Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent state, there have been occasional influxes of Myanmar nationals of Rohingya ethnicity from Myanmar to Bangladesh due to internal situations in their homeland.

The last such major influx took place in 1991-92 when 250,877 Myanmar nationals of Rohingya ethnicity took refuge in Bangladesh.

Of these, the Government of Myanmar took back 236,599 refugees through a tripartite agreement between Bangladesh, Myanmar and UNHCR after verification of their antecedents as people of Myanmar origin.

The remaining Myanmar refugees, along with their offsprings, are staying in two refugee camps in Bangladesh. A quarter of these residual refugees were verified and confirmed by the Myanmar Government as their nationals. Both the Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh are working on the repatriation of the residual Myanmar refugees with the support of UNHCR.

In addition to the above caseload of refugees, a large number of Myanmar nationals, again of Rohingya ethnicity, have subsequently crossed the border from Myanmar illegally into Bangladesh.

The numbers of these undocumented Myanmar nationals are reported to be around 400,000-500,000. In numerous interactions at various levels, including during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Myanmar in December 2011, the government of Myanmar has assured Bangladesh to take back these undocumented Myanmar nationals after verification of their origin.

Both Bangladesh and Myanmar are working closely to resolve this longstanding issue and to move forward in exploring the enormous potentials for bilateral cooperation.

Bangladesh has noted with appreciation the recent decision of the Myanmar Government to review their Citizenship laws to ensure inclusive nationality for all members of Myanmar society. Bangladesh also expects that this review will uphold accepted international standards in determining the nationality of all people living in Myanmar.

Source: The Daily Star

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