Bangladesh and Myanmar Agree To Treat ARSA As Common Enemy: State Counselor’s Office

By The Irrawaddy & Reuters 3 October 2017

YANGON — Bangladesh expressed its position during a visit of Myanmar delegations to regard the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) as a common enemy of Myanmar and Bangladesh, Myanmar’s State Counselor’s Office said on Tuesday.

Myanmar declared the ARSA an extremist terrorist group in accordance with the country’s Counter-Terrorism Law after violent attacks on security outposts on Aug. 25.

Myanmar State Counselor’s Office Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe visited Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, from Sunday through Tuesday and met with the Bangladeshi Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Hassan Mahmood Ali to draft plans for the repatriation of Muslim residents who had fled to Bangladesh escaping military clearance operation after the attack by the ARSA in northern Rakhine.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the exodus of more than 500,000 Rohingya since late August has become the “world’s fastest developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare” at the UN Security Council meeting last week.

The Myanmar government claimed more than 500 people have been killed since Aug. 25, most of them insurgents, whom it has accused of attacking civilians in northern Rakhine State.

Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe was accompanied by permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U Kyaw Zeya.

Bangladesh also stressed its policy of zero tolerance against terrorism, according to a Tuesday statement issued by the Myanmar State Counselor’s Office on its official Facebook page.

Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said in an address to the nation and international communities last month that “refugees from this country will be accepted without any problem” under the 1993 agreement with Bangladesh.

According to Reuters’ report, the two countries had agreed on Monday to form a “working group” to commence plans for repatriation.

“We are looking forward to a peaceful solution to the crisis,” the Bangladeshi foreign affairs minister was quoted in the report.

Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe said during the meeting with Bangladeshi officials that Myanmar was “ready to begin the verification and repatriation of refugees,” according to the statement.

Myanmar’s State Counselor’s Office said a total of 236,495 people from 46,993 households had been repatriated from Bangladesh to Myanmar between September 1992 and July 2005 in accordance with the agreed criteria set out between the two countries on April 28, 1992.