The Irrawaddy

BGB Urges Myanmar Govt to Repatriate Rohingya Refugees as Soon as Possible

NAYPYITAW — The Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) has urged the Myanmar government to repatriate as soon as possible more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees back into Rakhine State’s Maungdaw at the fourth central level meeting on security and law enforcement of the two countries on Tuesday.

The mass exodus of Muslim refugees has caused a “burden” to Bangladesh, said director-general Abul Hossain of the BGB, urging the Myanmar government to stop the mass immigration of Muslim refugees and begin repatriation efforts quickly.

The Myanmar government has, however, voiced doubt as to the figure of 600,000 cited by UN human rights observers and international media.

The Myanmar authorities have asked the BGB to recheck the figure and compile an accurate list of refugees, said Police Brig-Gen Aung Htay Myint, the head of the cross-border crime department of the Myanmar Police Force, who participated in the meeting.

“We have our immigration data to check if refugees lived here. We have an agreement that we will accept them back if they have actually lived here,” said police Brig-Gen Aung Htay Myint.

Details about the repatriation will be discussed during the upcoming Bangladeshi foreign minister’s visit to Myanmar, he said.

The Myanmar government has invited Bangladeshi foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali to Myanmar from Nov. 16-18, but the visit has not yet been confirmed.

“We expect to sign a memorandum of understanding when the Bangladeshi foreign minister comes. We expect to discuss repatriation policies in detail, and we’ll form joint committees to verify and repatriate according to those policies,” he added.

The BGB director-general lamented that drones and helicopters from Myanmar crossed the border in October, and that Myanmar border guard police detained some Bangladeshi fishermen.

The Myanmar government has handed over a list of more than 1,000 suspects who were reportedly involved in the attacks in Maungdaw and fled to Bangladesh, and the Bangladeshi government has handed over four suspects, according to police Brig-Gen Aung Htay Myint.

The BGB director-general said that his country had never and would not accept any unlawful organization, insurgents or terrorists on its soil.

“Myanmar wishes to start the negotiation as soon as possible. The more the negotiation is deferred, the longer delay it will cause in the repatriation process,” said U Zaw Htay, director-general of the President’s Office.

The Tuesday meeting discussed bilateral cooperation in border security and law, illegal fishing, smuggling through the border, and establishment of a Border Liaison Office (BLO), according to a joint statement.

Present at the meeting were high-ranking officials of the Myanmar Police Force led by Police Brig-Gen Myo Swe Win, members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, and high ranking officials of Bangladesh’s Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.