Bangladesh has expressed the hope that Rohingya repatriation will begin soon with sending the first batch of over 3,000 Rohingyas though no specific date is there to begin the process.
“We’re thinking of beginning the first batch repatriation soon. I can’t tell you the date at this moment. Clearance for over 3000 (Rohingya names) is given. Let’s see,” Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told reporters on Wednesday.
He was talking to reporters after attending a seminar titled ‘Rohingya Crisis: Challenges and Ways Forward’ at National Defence College (NDC) in the city.
Pressed, the Foreign Minister said he cannot tell further on the issue but mentioned Bangladesh will remain cautious.
Asked whether the repatriation will begin this year, he said, “I told you…soon. Let’s see.”
An estimated over 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh since August 25 last year, joining others who had already been living in cramped refugee camps across the district.
On August 11 last, a high-level Bangladesh delegation led by Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque visited Rakhine and saw the “trail of widespread devastation” suffered by the people who lived there.
They emphasised the need to accelerate efforts to create a “congenial environment” and build houses and villages for the returnees.
Following the visit, the Foreign Secretary reiterated that the repatriation issue in any country is a very “complex and difficult” issue that cannot be done overnight.
“They (Myanmar) have shown what preparations they’ve taken so for taking the Rohingyas back from Bangladesh,” he said adding, “I would say at least something is done. We’re hopeful (but) it won’t be wise to do things in a hurry.”
Meanwhile, UN human rights investigators said top Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for “genocide” against Rohingyas.
“Unless impunity is addressed, and all ranks within the security forces are held accountable for their past, current and future actions, similar outbreaks of violence and associated atrocious crimes can be expected to continue, with further devastating domestic and regional impact,” reads a UN report released recently.
The UN Security Council should adopt targeted individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against those who appear most responsible for serious crimes under international law, reads the recommendation part of the report.
“It should also impose an arms embargo on Myanmar,” says the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Mission also concluded “there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw chain of command so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State.”
A fuller report, containing detailed factual information and legal analyses, will be published and presented to the Human Rights Council on 18 September. It will include a significant amount of satellite imagery analysis.