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Repatriation of Rohingya refugees must be voluntary

By Saifullah Muhammad

The unatical agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to repatriate potentially hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to their homes in Rakhine State has been widely criticized by the international experts.

Around a million Rohingya have fled across the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar since 25 Aug., when a new round of crackdown broken out on the name of clearance operation in Myanmar’s west.

Under the agreement, the two countries would work together to solve the huge refugee crisis and repatriate Rohingya who wanted to return to Rakhine State.
 News of the deal broke on Thursday when a spokesman for State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi announced that a memorandum of understanding had been signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Myanmar’s  announcement was very short on details, however.
The Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative, a registered Rohingya organization in Canada expressed their major concern about the text of the agreement was how long repatriated refugees would be kept in temporary camps.
The agreement says “Myanmar will take all possible measures to see that the returnees will not be settled in temporary places for a long period of time and their freedom of movement in the Rakhine State will be allowed in conformity with the existing laws and regulations.”
At the rate of return proposed by the Burmese government of 100-150 refugees returning per day, it would take 22.33 years. At 150 a day, it would take 14.88 years.
“How can we trust the government and military? They have been committing crime against humanity since 1962 in Burma and no any article of Universal Declaration of Human Rights was honoured. No one should go back if they have to stay in a camp, if they are not allowed to live back in their original village,” the statement said, “Myanmar government must restore their citizenship once they are repatriated.”
That is the most pernicious narrative, calls for repatriating Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar where ethnic cleansing has not yet ceased, while the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi continue to deny it is going on.

People are still fleeing the country due to continuous persecution of arm forces and local Rakhine people. It is disingenuous to assume that Myanmar and Bangladesh are engaged to repatriate them without any right is ensured and where their life would be in more danger.
Bangladesh has not been able to provide an orderly method for asylum. Who would trust it to negotiate a humane repatriation program?
There are some narratives about Myanmar still clung to by politicians and the media which are mocked by the realities of the Rohingya crisis. One of the most perilous narratives is the portrayal of Aung San Suu Kyi, as a fallen angel and champion of human rights leading a civilian government. In fact, the fascist military junta has been using her to remove US and European sanctions.

Aung San Suu Kyi is no one’s role model. Only the model of Burmese Terror Military and Buddhist Fanatics.

She will be remembered alongside many genocidaires for commiting genocide against Rohingya. The first Nobel Peace Laureate who turns a monster losing her morals and principles for the sake of ascending to power while making alliance with the warmongering and fear-mongering military and certain section of public.

Given its reputation for honesty and fairness, Canada is trying to help the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and  in Myanmar by donating millions of dollar. Canada also committed to help Myanmar and Bangladeshi government to solve the Rohingya crisis.

However, to repatriate Rohingya back to their home, it should be volutary and their rights to citizenship and safety of their lives must be ensured.
Furthermore UNHCR should be allowed to intervein during the repatriation. International media, humanitarian aid groups should be allowed to access in Rakhine state. Otherwise, it would be same man-made disaster might happened again in this year.

By adminsaifulrohin

Saifullah Muhammad is a student of journalism at Conestoga College, Ontario, Canada and a Rohingya youth activist. He can be reached at

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