See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy

‘Forced repatriation’ to pose security risk

International crisis warns that forced repatriation of Rohingya refugees could pose serious security risks.


Written by

Updated: November 13, 2018

The International Crisis Group has warned of serious security risks of “forced repatriation” of the Rohingya, just as Myanmar and Bangladesh prepare for the November 15 return of the refugees sheltered in Bangladesh.

In a statement, the Brussels-based global advocacy body said Rohingyas strongly opposed the repatriation move and would do whatever they can to resist it.

“This [forced repatriation] will increase tension in the camps and could lead to confrontations between refugees and Bangladesh security forces and greatly complicate humanitarian operations.

“A botched repatriation attempt could potentially set back peace and development efforts by years,” said the statement released yesterday.

It comes two weeks after Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation in mid-November, the deal for which they signed last year in November.

Additionally, the UNDP, UN Refugee Agency and Myanmar signed a tripartite deal on Rohingya repatriation in June this year.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Win Myat Aye, Myanmar’s Minister for Social Welfare and Resettlement, said they were ready to receive more than 2,000 Rohingya Muslims on November 15, the first from 5,000 people verified by Myanmar, reported Reuters.

“It depends on the other country, whether this will actually happen or not,” he said at a press conference in Yangon, referring to Bangladesh.

“But we must be ready from our side. We have done that.”

But in a possible setback, more than 20 individuals on a list of potential returnees submitted by Bangladesh told Reuters they would refuse to go back to northern Rakhine State from where they fled.

However, Abul Kalam, Bangladesh relief and repatriation commissioner, said the return would be totally voluntary and expressed hope that it would begin on Thursday.

“The return will be voluntary. Nobody will be forced to go back.”

Some 750,000 Rohingyas have fled the military crackdown which began in August last year in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The victim’s testimonies highlighted how soldiers and local Buddhists massacred families burned hundreds of villages and carried out gang-rapes.

UN-mandated investigators have accused the Myanmar army of “genocidal intent” and ethnic cleansing.

CONCERNS UNADDRESSED

The United Nations said conditions were not yet safe for the Rohingyas’ return, in part because Myanmar Buddhists had been protesting against the repatriation.

To this end, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said the repatriation process, without consultations and preparations needed in Rakhine state, could easily inflame hostilities and provoke violence against returnees in Rakhine state.

Highlighting another problem, it said that if refugees feared that they would be forced back to Myanmar, they may become desperate to leave the camps and to attempt dangerous sea journeys across the Bay of Bengal to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia or other countries.

It recommended that Bangladesh and Myanmar immediately halt plans to return refugees to Rakhine State until they can ensure a process of voluntary, safe and dignified return.

“The onus is squarely on Myanmar to create those conditions.”

In the meantime, Myanmar should grant unfettered access for the UN and its international NGO partners, as well as the media, to northern Rakhine for the delivery of essential humanitarian support and assessment of the situation on the ground.

Bangladesh and its international partners should deepen their political engagement with the Rohingya refugees and consult them on their future, while China should stop pressing for an early repatriation, ICG said.

Fortify Rights also made similar demands.

“Rohingya refugees shouldn’t be treated like subjects in a bilateral chess match. They have rights,” said Matthew Smith, head of Fortify Rights.

Meanwhile, the UN’s refugee agency on Sunday said that Rohingya refugees should be allowed to go and see the conditions in Myanmar before they decide to go back.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

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

US-Thai defence treaty looks to cement alliance in 21st century

Thailand is the US’ oldest treaty ally in Southeast Asia. Thailand and the United States have signed a defence treaty to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region “in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”. The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance”, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Bangkok on Sunday. “It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future”, the statement added. Academics said the move reaffirmed US policy o


By The Nation (Thailand)
November 18, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Coming challenges call for stronger Korea-ASEAN ties

President Moon Jae-in contributed this article to The Korea Herald and Asia News Network member newspapers on the occasion of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.  Next week, November 25-27, the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit will be held in Korea. In particular, since my hometown Busan will play host to the events, I am very much looking forward to them – as if I have invited valued guests to my home. I send early greetings in a warm welcome to the heads of state and government as well as to the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Republic of Korea was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner to establish an ASEAN Culture House. Koreans love ASEAN so much that the National ASEAN Recreation Forest was created complete with cabins modeled after the various traditional housing styles of the 10 ASEAN member states. After I took offic


By Asia News Network
November 18, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Ayodhya: Coming full circle

Ishan Joshi writes about the recent Ayodhya verdict. Nearly 27 years to the day when as a raw 20-year-old political reporter for The Statesman I reached Ayodhya to cover the run-up to and, as it happened, the aftermath of the demolition of a medieval mosque on 6 December 1992, my primary concern was to find out whether I would get eggs for breakfast. Information I had picked up on the drive down from the state capital Lucknow to Ayodhya was that the temple town, in keeping with its status as a holy city, did no “non-veg.” Such things were important to me, then.  Now, in an effort to prolong my late youth, as it were, oats/idli/low-fat yogurt and the like are my victuals of choice for breakfast. But that’s not all that’s changed. The Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya Case last week means a Ram Temple will soon be built


By Ishan Joshi
November 18, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

N. Korea says it sent ultimatum to S. Korea over Mount Kumgang project

Mount Kumgang is a joint economic venture. North Korea sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier this week that it will unilaterally remove the South-built facilities from its Mount Kumgang resort unless Seoul tears them down on its own, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported Friday. The North’s tough stance suggests little room for inter-Korean negotiations that South Korea has sought in an effort to keep the long-suspended tour project that was considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap) “We sent an ultimatum on Nov. 11 that i


By The Korea Herald
November 15, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Death of militant heads will stunt recruitment but not kill it

ISIS has a foothold in Southeast Asia. The deaths of Malaysian militant leaders Akel Zainal and Mohd Rafi Udin will reduce the intensity of recruitment for the Islamic State (IS) but not completely kill it, says a terrorism expert. Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady, a political science lecturer at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, said the recruitment of Malaysians into the terror group might continue undetected in some cases. “Their deaths will certainly have an impact among Malaysian IS fighters. While their deaths may reduce the intensity of recruitment, it will not completely kill it, ” he said. Commenting on the power vacuum among Malaysian IS fighters in Syria following the deaths of Akel and Mohd Rafi, Dr Ahmad said there was no longer a central Malaysian figure in Syria.


By The Star
November 15, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

China, India doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to clean up

Garbage they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles: Donald Trump. US President Donald Trump at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, has said countries like China, India and Russia are doing “absolutely nothing” to clean up their smokestacks and industrial plants and the garbage that they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles. Trump also claimed that he considers himself to be, “in many ways, an environmentalist, believe it or not”. US president said that climate change is a “very complex issue.” “So…I’m very much into climate. But I want the cleanest air on the planet and I want to have – I have to have clean air – water,” Mr Trump said in remarks at the Economic Club of New York. Trump while addressing the audience said that the US withdrew from the “one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ”close your businesses down within three


By The Statesman
November 14, 2019