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India says Myanmar must take back Rohingya Muslims

October 23, 2017

India's foreign minister told Bangladesh's government that Myanmar must take back Rohingya Muslims to resolve one of Asia's largest refugee crises in decades, the government said.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed her message on Sunday during a meeting with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who ordered border guards and her administration to allow the Rohingya to cross the border and shelter in makeshift camps in the coastal district of Cox's Bazar.

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since August 25 to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.

The United News of Bangladesh agency reported that Swaraj said, “Myanmar must take back their nationals ... this is a big burden for Bangladesh. How long will Bangladesh bear it? There should be a permanent solution to this crisis.”

She met earlier with her Bangladeshi counterpart A.H. Mahmood Ali and said India was worried about the violence. Human rights groups have interviewed refugees who said Myanmar security forces killed indiscriminately, committed rapes and burned villages to force Rohingya to leave.

“We've urged the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population,” Swaraj said in a statement.

Swaraj also said India supported the implementation of recommendations suggesting recognition of the Rohingya ethnic group within Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and are effectively stateless.

In the statement, she also said creating economic opportunity in the troubled Rakhine state could help resolve the situation.

“In our view, the only long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine State is rapid socio-economic and infrastructure development that would have a positive impact on all the communities living in the state,” she was quoted as saying in the statement.

The Bangladeshi foreign minister urged India to play a greater role by “exerting sustained pressure” on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis.

India's shift toward resolving the Rohinga crisis would mean a lot to China's policy to support Myanmar.

An official with China's ruling Communist Party said Saturday the country supports Myanmar in “safeguarding peace and stability” and won't join other nations in condemning the government's actions.

Beijing condemns “violence and terror acts” and backs measures to restore order, said the vice minister of the party's International Department, Guo Yezhou, apparently referring to attacks by Rohingya rebels on Myanmar security forces.