The government on Wednesday refuted the Myanmar authorities’ claim that Bangladesh was mischaracterising the Rohingya crisis, sticking to the line of argument of the UN and the international community since the start of the influx of the refugees.

The Myanmar government did not demonstrate any political-will to implement the provisions of bilateral instruments and to address the underlying political, economic, security, and social causes rooted in the Rohingya crisis, the foreign ministry said in a statement contesting claims made by Kyaw Tin, Myanmar union minister for international cooperation.

While Tin accused Bangladesh of mischaracterising the Rohingya crisis as ‘religious persecution’, ‘driving an ethnic group out of the country’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘genocide’, etcetera, the foreign ministry said such observations were made by international community based on documented evidence, which bear the unmistakable signs of forcible deportation of a community from its ancestral homeland in Rakhine.

The statement also said that such treatment meted out to an ethnic minority falls under the category of ‘atrocity crimes on civilian population’.

The Bangladesh government ‘rejects such baseless accusation, falsification, and misrepresentation of facts,’ the foreign ministry said.

The Myanmar minister resorted to misrepresentation of the whole issue as well as laying unjustified blames on Bangladesh in his effort to refute remarks by Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen at the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement on 23 October 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

On the matter of verification for starting the repatriation of Rohingya people, the foreign ministry said that unwarranted delay in verification of past residency of Rohingya with arbitrary rejection of a substantial number of displaced people together deepened the crisis.

Myanmar’s claim that many Rohingyas were ‘not included in the registered list of household’ and the excessive focus on technicalities ‘are clear manifestations of their utter reluctance to resolve the crisis through dialogue and negotiation,’ observed the ministry. 

The ministry further observed that Myanmar portrayed Rohingyas as ‘illegal-migrants’ from Bangladesh during the colonial era and now came up with an innovation that there was a massive influx of Bangladeshis to Myanmar during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.

After the recent influx of August 2017, Myanmar signed bilateral instruments with Bangladesh identifying them as ‘Myanmar residents’, the ministry said, adding that as far as the nationality of Rohingyas is concerned, there cannot be any scope for confusion.

‘Attempts to create controversy over their identity at this stage clearly indicate that Myanmar still pursues the policy of exclusion and marginalisation of its ethnic minorities,’ the statement said. 

The Bangladesh ministry stressed that Myanmar must act decisively to address the real causes that are preventing the displaced Rohingyas from going back voluntarily, ensure participation of the international community in the creating of an environment conducive for return as well as in the monitoring of repatriation and reintegration process.

More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.

The last incident of Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.

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