See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

Is Myanmar blocking the return of Rohingyas?

Around 28,000 people are working round-the-clock to manage the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.


Written by

Updated: March 30, 2018

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the international community to keep up the pressure on Myanmar to take back Rohingya Muslims who have taken refuge in her country.

Bangladesh has given shelter on humanitarian grounds to more than 1 million ethnic Rohingya Muslims – believed to be the world’s most persecuted minority – since August 2017.

Hasina made the call when Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO-SEARO (World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional Office), met her at Gono Bhaban, the Prime Minister’s official residence on March 28.

The Prime Minister said her government has completed biometric registration of Rohingyas who fled Myanmar after facing atrocities in Rakhine State, the Daily Star quoted the PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim as saying.

Rohingya are an ethnic group, mostly Muslims, who have lived in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since the 12th century, yet they are not counted amongst the country’s 135 official ethnic groups. They mostly live in Rakhine State – one of the poorest regions in the country – and have been denied citizenship since 1982.

On 25 August 2017, Myanmar’s army launched a military operation against the Rohingya civilian population across northern Rakhine State after the armed group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), attacked around 30 security force outposts.

The Agreement

After months of discussions, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in January on the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. Myanmar agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya every week, meaning all the refugees were expected to return within two years.

However, experts believe that Myanmar is in no mood to take the Rohingyas back. The refugees, victims of an ethnic cleansing campaign, themselves are unsure if they want to return to an unsafe land.

The Daily Star listed the following reasons that expose Myanmar’s intentions: “Myanmar has: (i) deployed troops near the Bangladesh border – where Rohingyas have taken shelter – calling it an “anti-terrorism” operation, (ii) moved ethnic Rakhine Buddhists to villages cleared of and once dominated by Rohingyas, and (iii) verified less than 400 Rohingya refugees for repatriation, blaming Bangladesh for the delay.”

A report in the Washington Post said that “Myanmar’s military is fortifying its border with Bangladesh with a new fence, security forces and land mines, inflaming tensions with its neighbor and sending a ‘keep out’ message to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees it drove from the country”.

The report added, “The chain-link fence, reinforced with barbed wire, anchored in concrete and buttressed in some sections with bunkers and military posts, now runs for much of the 170-mile border.”

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government says it will allow the return of Rohingya who can prove they are from Myanmar. Media reports say her government has rejected almost all of the first batch of 8,000 applicants even though they have deep roots in the country.

Tracking Violations

Aid agencies have been tracking crimes against humanity committed by the Mynamar military, including the widespread killing of women, men, and children; rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls; mass deportation; and the systematic burning of villages.

Amnesty International, in a recent report, interviewed 19 newly arrived Rohingya men and women in Bangladesh, who described how forced starvation, abductions and looting of property drove them to flee.

“The ongoing oppression appears to be designed to make northern Rakhine State unliveable for the tens of thousands of Rohingya still there, and follows the Myanmar military’s relentless campaign of violence, which has driven more than 688,000 Rohingya across the border to Bangladesh since August last year,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reiterated the importance of addressing the root causes of violence in Rakhine State and sought steps from Myanmar for the safe return of Rohingyas to their homeland.

“It is critical that conditions are put in place to ensure that the Rohingyas are able to return home voluntarily in safety and in dignity,” the Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, told a regular briefing at the UN headquarters on March 27.

From the situation on the ground, it now appears the return of all the Rohingya refugees is unlikely to be completed any time soon.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

North Korea leader arrives in Russia ahead of Putin summit

Kim and Putin are due to meet today. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday arrived in Vladivostok, Russia, a day ahead of his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kim set out for Russia via his private train in the early hours of Wednesday and arrived in the Russian border city of Khasan at about 10:40 a.m., before moving on to Vladivostok, where he arrived some six hours later. In an interview with Russian media after a welcome ceremony in Khasan, Kim hinted at strengthening cooperation with Moscow in regional security issues. “I believe (the summit) will be an opportunity for very beneficial conversation in jointly managing and controlling regional issues,” Kim said in the interview.


By The Korea Herald
April 25, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

China showcases carrier strike group capabilities at fleet review

China has flexed its muscles before in the South China Sea. China displayed its military development toward assembling its version of a carrier strike group during a naval parade in Qingdao, China, on Tuesday. The international fleet review marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Liberation Army Navy showcased Chinese naval vessels such as China’s own aircraft carrier and state-of-the-art destroyers. It is certain that the Chinese navy, which aims to exclude the U.S. military from the western Pacific Ocean to gain maritime hegemony, will increase provocative maritime maneuvers with its aircraft carrier Besides China, Japan was one of the 13 countries participating in the naval review. The crew members and others on these countries’ vessels saluted Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also heads the PLA, standing on the deck of a Chinese d


By The Japan News
April 25, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

Pro democracy candidate charged by Thailand’s election commission

The EC accuse a pro-democracy leader of holding media shares while running for office. The Election Commission (EC) yesterday unanimously resolved to press a charge against Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit over alleged violation of media shareholding rules. Citing investigations by two EC panels, Sawang Boonmee, the EC deputy secretary-general, told a press conference that Thanathorn had allegedly violated the law by owning or holding 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media Company while registering as a candidate for the general election. “Thanathorn’s share certificate number is from 1350001 to 2025000,” said Sawang, referring to the findings of two panels the EC had set up to investigate the case. Thanathorn was accus


By Cod Satrusayang
April 24, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

Iran sanctions alarm Korean petrochemical sector

Korea, major player in crude oil market, seeking alternative countries would drive up costs. As the US is set to end sanction exemptions for countries buying oil from Iran, South Korean petrochemical companies are anticipated to struggle in having to reduce their Iranian oil supplies. From May 2, eight nations, including Korea, Japan, China and India, will be banned from buying oil from Iran as the US government’s 180-day waiver ends. Iran is the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil to Korea, following Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the US and Iraq. Imports of crude oil from Iran to Korea accounted for 8.6 percent of total imported crude oil in February, according to Korea National Oil Corp. “We were a bit shocked. We didn’t expect a complete ban. Every company (affected) will be busy securing condensate, which is not abundant in the market,” said an anonymous official of a local firm in the petroc


By The Korea Herald
April 24, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

PM Imran’s statement in Iran comes under intense opposition attack

Khan said in Tehran that Pakistan has been used as a staging area for attacks in Iran. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s public acknowledgement in Tehran that terrorists had in the past misused Pakistani territory to undertake attacks against Iran came under a blistering attack by the opposition in the National Assembly on Tuesday. Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari defended the prime minister, saying his statement was being quoted out of context. In an unprecedented, albeit bold move, Imran, while speaking at a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after a round of talks on Monday, had said: “I know Iran has suffered from terrorism [perpetrated] by groups operating from Pakistan. …we [need to] have trust in each other that both countries will not allow any terrorist activity fr


By Dawn
April 24, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy, Politics

Iran, Pakistan pledge to combat terrorism

Prime Minister Imran Khan met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Presidential Palace in Tehran on Monday. During their meeting, Prime Minister Imran — who is on a two-day official visit to Iran — discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and ways to further ties in diverse fields with President Rouhani, Radio Pakistan reported.


By Dawn
April 23, 2019