Bangladesh seeks US support for Rohingya repatriation

By Md. Kamruzzaman

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Bangladesh has sought the U.S. support to create a safe zone in Myanmar’s Rakhine State for repatriation of Rohingya to their homeland.

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abdul Momen on Monday met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington and urged him to help put “credible international pressure” on Myanmar for the return of Rohingya, according to a press release issued by the Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry.

Momen said Bangladesh at its own expense developed a remote Bhashan Char islet “a livable place”, where 100,000 Rohingyas are planned to be relocated in first phase in coordination with UN agencies and different aid groups.

In response to Bangladesh’s request, Pompeo said: “The one million plus forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals have to return to Myanmar without any form of fear and persecution,” according to the press release.

“It is the responsibility of the Myanmar government and military to create conducive environment so that the Rohingyas feel safe to return home,” it quoted Pompeo as saying.

– A persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – and brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.

In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity and genocidal intent.