Bangladesh PM blames Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation failure

Published September 12, 2019
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. — AFP/File
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. — AFP/File

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has blamed Myanmar for the failure of a recent attempt to repatriate Rohingya refugees, saying its neighbouring country did not do enough to win the community's trust.

The comments from Sheikh Hasina came three weeks after a fresh push to return the Muslim minority to Myanmar's conflict-scarred Rakhine state that fell flat when no-one turned up.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled their villages in Rakhine following a military crackdown in August 2017, joining nearly 200,000 already living in squalid camps across the border in southeast Bangladesh.

“We've seen Myanmar could not win Rohingya's trust in creating a conducive situation [in Rakhine] for their dignified return,” Hasina said in parliament late Wednesday.

“We had full preparation, but still the repatriation did not start...uncertainty looms over Rohingya getting back their homes, land and other properties.”

Hasina said she had asked other Asian nations including China, India and Japan to help resolve the crisis.

Her comments reflect Dhaka's frustration over the lack of a resolution to the refugee crisis. A previous repatriation offer was rejected by Rohingya leaders in October.

Her government has also started to crack down on activity in the camps amid a recent outbreak of violence and rising tensions with locals.

Dhaka has imposed a virtual internet blackout in the camps in the border towns of Teknaf and Ukhia by cutting access to 3G and 4G mobile internet networks. Experts have said 2G networks are too slow for internet use.

Rohingya leaders have repeatedly said the refugees will not return to their homeland unless their safety is ensured, their rights and citizenship are granted and they are allowed to resettle in their villages.

The Rohingya are not recognised as an official minority by the Myanmar government, which considers them Bengali interlopers despite many families having lived in the country for generations.

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