On Rohingya, Myanmar Will Not Shirk From Responsibility: Suu Kyi

By The Irrawaddy 4 November 2019

YANGON—Responding to the UN Secretary General’s remarks on the Rohingya issue, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the Myanmar government will not shirk from its responsibility and reaffirmed that the country will work with friends who approach the issue in a “practical and balanced way.”

At the opening session of the 10th ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok on Nov. 3, UN Secretary General António Guterres said Myanmar was responsible for ensuring a conducive environment for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya refugees currently residing in Bangladesh.

“The [Myanmar] government will not shirk its responsibility to take care of the security and rights of all those who it must protect,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told the audience during the same event.   

In response to Guterres’ remarks, the State Counselor said the issue of Rakhine is a highly complex one, adding that the UN and its agencies have been present in the region 10 times longer than the current NLD government has been in office, and must therefore have some idea of the complexity of the situation.

She added that the Myanmar government was fully committed to taking back verified returnees based on the bilateral agreement signed with Bangladesh and the trilateral agreement signed with the UNHCR and UNDP (the UN’s refugee and development agencies), while expressing her appreciation to ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management for their assistance on the issue.

She reaffirmed Myanmar’s intention to continue its work with the help of “friends who approach the problems in Rakhine in a practical and balanced way”.

Some 730,000 displaced persons from northern Rakhine State fled to neighboring Bangladesh amid the Myanmar military’s clearance operations following coordinated attacks on security outposts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in August 2017. ARSA has been declared a terrorist group by the government. The UN has described the crisis as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and international observers have described it as “genocide.” Myanmar rejects both terms.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation agreement in November 2017 but implementation has failed repeatedly and each side blames the other for the delay.

So far, a total of 397 Rohingya, including 46 last week, have voluntarily returned independently of procedures outlined in a bilateral agreement between the Myanmar and Bangladeshi governments. The refugees have returned both by boat and on foot across the border, according to the Maungdaw District General Administration Department in northern Rakhine State.

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