On Wednesday (March 15) a Myanmar delegation of 22 members chaired by Aung Myu, Maungdaw Regional Director and Minister of the country’s Foreign Affairs team came to Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar from Maungdaw to verify the information of Rohingya people listed for repatriation.
The Myanmar delegation interviewed more than 156 Rohingyas at the Malanch conference room of Teknaf land port in two days. The interview is being conducted as part of the repatriation process.
However, most Rohingyas interviewed told members of the Myanmar delegation that Myanmar’s junta government must be willing to initiate a dignified repatriation process restoring civil rights. Otherwise, no Rohingyas in the refugee camps will agree to return to Rakhine.
Related sources said, Rohingya women, men and children were brought for interview. Most of the Rohingyas came from Jadimora and Shalbagan Rohingya refugee camps in Teknaf and Bhasanchar of Noa Khali.
Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Mizanur Rahman told the media that they (Myanmar delegation) will verify the information of 429 Rohingyas. They can verify the information of 60 to 100 Rohingya every day. In this case it may take five-six days. RRRC indicates they are supporting them.
According to the information of the RRRC office, the initiative to start the repatriation of Rohingyas was taken in January 2022 through the mediation of China. Out of the list of 800,000 Rohingya sent to Myanmar for repatriation, 1,140 were included in the first phase. Of these, Myanmar agreed to repatriate 711 Rohingyas. Myanmar had objections to the remaining 429 Rohingya. The country’s delegation came to meet 429 Rohingyas in view of Bangladesh government’s demands.
Hundreds of Rohingyas from Zadimora and Shalbagan refugee camps in Teknaf listed for interviews were brought to the port by car. There Rohingyas were seated on chairs in pandals. Later they were called one by one for an interview. At the end of the interview, the Myanmar delegation kept information on a piece of paper. But the Rohingyas who asked what the information was, are not getting an answer even if they ask why.
One Rohingya Kadir Hossain (55) of Jadimora shelter camp (Camp-27) of Teknaf came to give an interview. He faced the Myanmar team around 12 noon today. He came out after 15 minutes and said, “The Myanmar team is more interested in identifying the address of Rakhine State. They (representatives) wanted to know, in which village of Rakhine state there was a homestead, who was the UP chairman-member there? How many children were there, how many children were born in Bangladesh etc. But the delegation is not giving any opportunity to ask questions. We just came back with answers to questions.”
Another Rohingya, on condition of anonymity, said, “A few Rohingyas asked the delegation, when will the repatriation of Rohingya begin?” Whether the Myanmar government will grant citizenship to the Rohingyas before repatriation begins. None of the members of the delegation responded to this question. Before entering the conference room for the interview, the Rohingyas were told that no questions could be asked to the Myanmar delegation.
Another Rohingya woman named Hamida Khatun said, “A member of the Myanmar delegation asked her in what year she came to Bangladesh, and by which route crossed the Naf river, by land or through Naikkongchari. How many children are there in the house now?” Among them, how many children were born in Bangladesh, these questions are asked. After answering, the members of the delegation remained silent when asked whether the Myanmar government is willing to grant citizenship to the Rohingyas.
A few Rohingyas said, “We (Rohingyas) want repatriation to start soon. We are presenting detailed information in front of the Myanmar delegation because we want to return to the homeland of Rakhine.” But no Rohingya will agree to return unless the Myanmar government shows interest in a dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland with civil rights.