The Myanmar government says it has four conditions before it proceeds with the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees who fled across the border to Bangladesh to escape persecution.
The matter of the refugees was discussed during an international conference on India-Myanmar relations in Yangon on Friday, says Kolkata-based newspaper Anandabazar.
The Indian publication described the conditions set forward by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary U Kyaw Zeya as ‘strict’.
Those Rohingyas who can provide documented proof of long-term residence in Myanmar, want to return to Rakhine of their own will, can prove that they have relatives on the Myanmar side of the border and (in the case of children) can provide evidence their parents are permanent residents of Myanmar will be allowed to return, Anandabazar said.
India, which shares borders with the two neighbouring countries, has said Myanmar will have to take back its nationals currently taking refuge in Bangladesh. Similar calls have come from many other countries.
Many foreign diplomats who have visited the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps say it would be difficult for most of the approximately 1 million Rohingya refugees to meet the conditions set by Myanmar.
They say many fled their homes in fear for their lives and are unlikely to have proof of residence in the country.
The question was also raised at the conference arranged by the Kolkata Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, the Indian Embassy in Yangon and prominent Myanmar citizens in Yangon.
In response U Kyaw Zeya said that, “Of course it is mandatory to show some documents such as school registration, medical treatment at hospitals, work documents. Otherwise it is difficult to take them.”
When asked why conditions were so strict he responded that the issue wasn’t simply humanitarian, but also a matter of security.
U Kyaw Zeya also said that Myanmar’s implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations would show the Myanmar government’s sincerity.
A report by New Light of Myanmar says the Myanmar government has begun to issue National Verification Cards (NVCs) as certificates of citizenship to Rohingyas in Maungdaw.
The NVCs are being distributed based on a survey using the 1982 citizenship law to determine which persons are defined as Myanmar nationals.
The Muslim-majority Rohingya minority was not granted citizenship by Myanmar, which has long been a point of contention.
For years, the Myanmar government has treated the minority as ‘illegal Bengali immigrants’.
The Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations include the granting of Myanmar citizenship to the Rohingyas.
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