Rohingya’s Return Won’t Affect Security, Union Minister Vows

By Min Aung Khine 24 September 2018

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye has told Arakanese lawmakers not to be concerned about security risks associated with the planned resettlement of Rohingya refugees in Rakhine State’s southern Maungdaw.

The security situation was under control, he said on Friday at a meeting to discuss the government’s handling of the Rakhine issue with local lawmakers.

“We know you are worried about security in southern [Maungdaw]. But we have taken every step [in the resettlement process] in cooperation with those responsible for security,” the Union minister said in response to a question from Myebon Township lawmaker U Aung Win.

“So don’t worry about the south [of Maungdaw]. We will [resettle the Rohingya] only when security can be guaranteed,” the Union minister told the state Parliament.

Lawmaker U Aung Win said, “The Rakhine State Parliament has raised objections over their resettlement in southern Maungdaw, and locals aren’t happy with it either.”

According to the Union minister, the government has earmarked 42 places in southern and northern Maungdaw in which to resettle Rohingya.

Some 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine for Bangladesh after militant attacks on security outposts in the north of the state in August last year triggered a massive military and police crackdown in the area’s Muslim communities.

In November 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to start repatriating the refugees in January of this year, but the process has been postponed.

Resettlement will begin in northern Maungdaw, and gradually expand to the southern part of the state, the Union minister said.

U Aung Win also criticized the government for pardoning and resettling a group of Rohingya who returned to Myanmar illegally, after having previously arrested and taken action against illegal immigrants.

“I’d like to ask the government whether it would grant pardons and resettle them if they entered illegally again,” U Aung Win asked.

Lawmakers also asked the Union minister about the killing of Mro ethnic people in Maungdaw, the alleged issuance of national identity cards (or “pink cards”) to Rohingya, and land grabbing by the military in Rakhine.

Dr. Win Myat Aye said he did not have sufficient information to answer all of the lawmakers’ questions, but would reply to any unanswered questions later after consulting with the concerned ministers.

Bangladesh will start repatriating some 3,000 refugees, Myanmar President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay said at a press conference earlier this month.