It has been two years since Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh to escape from the genocide and repression they faced there, but the basic requirements for their repatriation remain missing. It's not surprising that the repatriation could not even begin, despite 1,500 Rohingyas being interviewed for the purpose over a span of three days.
The challenge now is to include the issue of citizenship in the repatriation agenda. The UN must clearly state that the issue of Myanmar citizenship for Rohingyas must be resolved without any further delay. And this must be resolved before repatriation.
Although the Bangladesh officials said they were ready to send back the first batch of Rohingyas on 22 August, there are no reasons for the international community or media to be exultant. This was hardly an actual repatriation attempt. They must take into cognizance the strategic reasons for which Bangladesh complied to Myanmar’s conditions.
It must be stressed that the issue of citizenship is most important for the Rohingyas. Simply sending them to refugee camps in Myanmar can't be called ‘repatriation’. This is just a continuation of uncertainty and insecurity. The Rohingyas feel that they are being counted as pawns in a chess game.
Though Myanmar will not accept them as citizens, it wants to take certain some steps to lessen international pressure. Bangladesh is bound to comply despite being aware of the real picture.
Myanmar played tricks to hold Bangladesh accountable for not being able to start repatriation. It wants to show that the UNHCR that it has undertaken extensive activities for repatriation and this had not been an entire failure.
Myanmar has managed to fool the whole world so far. The international community, despite being humanitarian and being friends of Bangladesh, has failed to take any effective steps. Myanmar still is in the position where it was two years ago regarding the military operations in Rakhine. It was hoped that the common friends of the two states including China, India and Russia will solve the issue but no effective efforts are in the sight so far. No demands seeking a change in Myanmar's stance have so far appeared in any international media.
Myanmar itself is completely silent on the issue of Rohingya citizenship. Though a number of states imposed a limited embargo on the generals of Myanmar, such efforts have already been proved useless. Even Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has ignored criticism and censure.
Human rights organisations too are inert when it comes to the criminals in Myanmar. Myanmar wants to create an illusion before the world that despite a delay they finally have started repatriation. It has a great symbolic value for them. The UNHCR, chiefly, must now inform the world that the responsibility of foiled initiative lies with Myanmar due to its trickery. Myanmar does not want to take back the Rohingyas, but it wants the Rohingyas to take the responsibility for it. Myanmar must not be allowed to succeed in this cunning manipulation.