Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Sunday termed ridiculous Myanmar’s claim of repatriating a five-member Rohingya family saying that Bangladesh does not have any information about that so-called repatriation.
“It’s ridiculous to us. We’ve no formal information about the repatriation of a five-member Rohingya family. Myanmar didn’t inform us about it. We’re trying to know about it,” he told reporters apparently expressing displeasure over the claim through international media.
Minister Khan came up with the remark when his attention was drawn about Myanmar’s claimed that one Rohingya family was repatriated from a refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh.
The home minister said some 6000 Rohingyas are living on the zero line along Bangladesh-Myanmar border, and they are not inside Bangladesh.
He said they heard that the family was part of 6000 Rohingyas living on the zero line.
“These people do not need any identity verification. We’ve long been asking Myanmar side to take them back from the zero line,” said the home minister.
He, however, hoped that the Myanmar side will take back all its nationals from Bangladesh, not one single family.
Director of Centre for Genocide Studies at Dhaka University professor Imtiaz Ahmed said Bangladesh currently has a Rohingya population, which is far more than Bhutan’s entire population.
Bhutan has around 800,000 people whereas Bangladesh had to give shelter to some 1.2 million Rohingyas.
The Associated Press (AP) report says Myanmar has accepted what appears to be the first five among some 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled military-led violence against the minority group, even though the UN says it is not yet safe for them to return home.
A government statement says five members of a family returned to western Rakhine state from a refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh, reports AP.
The statement says authorities determined whether they had lived in the country and provided them with a National Verification card - a form of ID that does not mean citizenship that Rohingya have been denied in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they have faced persecution for decades.
It is not clear if more repatriations are planned. There are concerns Rohingya would be forced to return and face unsafe conditions in Myanmar.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on 23 November 2017. On 16 January, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on ‘Physical Arrangement’ which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh.
The ‘Physical Arrangement’ stipulates that the repatriation will be completed preferably within two years from the start of repatriation.
The government is planning to send the second list consisting of up to 10,000 names of Rohingyas to Myanmar as part of the repatriation process.
Bangladesh has already handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families (8,032 individuals) to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of the displaced people to their homeland in Rakhine but there is no sign of their repatriation yet.