Agreement on Rohingya repatriation is a sham – new crimes against humanity expected
Bangladesh announces details regarding planned repatriation of refugees (Press Release)
Following the announcement of details regarding the planned repatriation of about 630,000 Rohingya refugees to Burma, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses the governments of Bangladesh and Burma of deliberately trying to deceive the world public. “The repatriation agreement is presented as a solution to the problematic refugee crisis, but the provisions will hardly suffice to encourage or enable many of the Rohingya refugees to return. The agreement can be seen as ‘fake news’, a means to prevent internal protests and international pressure regarding a sustainable solution to the Rohingya issue,” said Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Sunday. “The repatriation agreement is unrealistic, inhumane, and a violation of the basic principles of international law. Anyone who supports this inhumane deal will encourage new crimes against humanity. In Burma, the returnees are supposed to be accommodated in camps, and their apartheid-like treatment will continue.” The agreement won’t serve to ensure that those who are responsible for the ethnic cleansing and the violence will be held accountable – and the Rohingya won’t be granted more rights.
Yesterday, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Mahmood Ali announced long-awaited details concerning the contract with Burma, which had been signed last Thursday. He also stated that the repatriations
would start on January 23, 2018. Within the next three weeks, the two governments are supposed to establish a committee to take care of the repatriation. Burma insisted on a right to reject individual refugees.
Another problematic aspect is that it will hardly be possible to determine the identity of the refugees, because many of them don’t have any identity documents – and because they gave their details in the Rakhine language and not in Burmese when they registered in the camps in Bangladesh. Also, only very few Rohingya will be prepared to go back into the hands of their persecutors without guaranteed improvements regarding their legal status, and without certainty that their persecutors will be punished.
“Burma and Bangladesh simply copied an agreement between the two states that was negotiated in 1992. However, the world has changed since then – and the fight against impunity has become more important,” said Delius. Now, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will – unlike in 1992, when the original agreement between the two states was negotiated – no longer be prepared to ignore crimes against humanity. “As long as Burma is not prepared to grant the Rohingya their basic human rights, the Rohingya crisis will not be solved,” explained Delius.