Myanmar, B'desh form panel on Rohingya crisis

Bangladesh and Myanmar on Tuesday formed a joint working group and signed an agreement detailing the terms of its mandate to begin repatriation of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who escaped a military offensive in Rakhine state. Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry representative Mohamed Shahidul Haque and his counterpart from Myanmar, U Myint Thu, inked the agreement to create the joint working group, which will comprise 15 representatives from each country, Efe news reported. “In the arrangement Bangladesh and Myanmar signed in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw in November there was a mention of a Joint Working Group. Now it has been formed, we will start working on the next phase,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmud Ali said. “I cannot say exactly when it will start, but it will start soon. It’s important to start. I am really satisfied,” Ali said. Myanmar signed an agreement with Bangladesh on November 23 to repatriate the more than 650,000 Rohingyas who had crossed over to Bangladesh fleeing the violence that erupted on August 25 in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after the Army launched an offensive following a series of attacks on government posts in the region by Rohingya rebels. According to the agreement, the repatriation process would start within two months of the signing of the agreement. Myanmar, which does not recognise the Rohingyas — a Muslim minority community — as citizens, had agreed to their return provided they have the required documents and are not involved in alleged acts of terrorism. The Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry said that the accord will “include mechanism of verification, time schedule, transport and logistics arrangements, reception procedures, communication etc. to commence the repatriation process within the stipulated time frame”. The working group will be assisted by international bodies such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international partners in various stages of repatriation. Several human rights organisations, however, have repeatedly denounced that conditions are not appropriate for the safe return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar, where, according to recently-arrived refugees, the offensive against them is still underway. The UN and several human rights organisations had condemned alleged abuses against the Rohingyas as part of the offensive and called it “ethnic cleansing”. The non-profit Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) reported in a study last week that at least 6,700 Rohingyas, including 730 children aged below five, had been killed in Myanmar in the first month of the crisis.

(IANS) // ]]>

Take back Rohingyas, India tells Myanmar

 India on Sunday said that Myanmar should take back the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is visiting Bangladesh, also discussed the refugee situation with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “India is deeply concerned over the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar,” Sushma Swaraj said at a joint address to the media along with her Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali following the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) meeting here. “We have urged the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the people’s welfare,” Sushma Swaraj said. Without naming the Rohingyas, she said it was clear that “normalcy will be restored only with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state”. According to the latest figures issued by the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmarese Army’s crackdown on the minority Rohingya community following a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine. The Rohingyas do not have citizenship in Myanmar and are sparingly given refugee status in Bangladesh. “In our view, the only long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine is rapid socio-economic and infrastructure development that will have a positive impact on all the communities living in the state,” Sushma Swaraj said. “India, for its part, has committed to provide financial and technical assistance for identified projects to be undertaken in Rakhine state in conjunction with the local authorities. We have also supported implementation of the recommendations contained in the Kofi Annan-led Special Advisory Commission report.” The Commission, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, submitted the report with 88 recommendations to deal with the sectarian violence and foster development in the region. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first ever bilateral visit to Myanmar last month, India too offered to help in the economic development of Rakhine state. Since the middle of last month, India has, through its ‘Operation Insaniyat’, supplied essential commodities like parboiled rice, dal, salt, sugar, cooking oil, tea, milk powder, mosquito nets and soap to the displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. There are around 40,000 Rohingya refugees in India too, but New Delhi has made it clear it was not willing to accept them because of security concerns. Following the JCC meeting, Sushma Swaraj called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and “discussed the situation arising out of influx of displaced persons from Rakhine state and need for an early and lasting solution”, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted. The Indian External Affairs Minister also apprised Hasina of the productive discussions at the JCC and tangible progress made since the latter’s visit to India in April. In her address to the media here, Sushma Swaraj mentioned that India has extended three lines of credit to Bangladesh amounting to $8 billion, the largest developmental assistance India has extended to any country. “In addition, India has also been extending grants for small socio-economic projects in Bangladesh,” the Indian Minister said. “In three years alone, 24 such grant projects have been completed, including construction of students’ hostels, tube wells, cultural centres and orphanages. Presently, 58 projects, including city development projects in Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet, are under implementation. Tomorrow (Monday), we will launch another 15 projects in the areas of education, health, culture and community development.” Sushma Swaraj also referred to the cooperation between India and Bangladesh in the energy sector and said that India was now supplying 660 MW of “much-needed power to the Bangladesh people and this figure will double, if not triple, in the foreseeable future”. “We will work together as founding members of the (India-initiated) International Solar Alliance, for which Bangladesh has just confirmed its accession,” she said. “This alliance is expected to make solar energy affordable by aggregating demand, promoting universal access to energy, and networking research and development. Pointing out that oil and gas was another sector that would yield immense benefits to both the countries, Sushma Swaraj said: “We have already agreed on the construction of a petroleum products pipeline from Siliguri to Parbatipur to benefit people of north-western Bangladesh, as a grant-in-aid project.” Later in the evening, Sushma Swaraj also held a meeting with Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia and “exchanged views on issues of mutual interest”, MEA spokesperson Kumar said in a separate tweet.

(IANS) // ]]>

THE ROHYINGA DILEMA, THE WEST IS PART OF THE PROBLEM

Aung San Suu Kyi, Noble Laurette[/caption] The problem with this pretentious democracies created to feed the wests’ evangelic predilection is that human rights and the rights of minorities become trampled and even crushed with a new sense of impunity under a veneer of acceptable leadership. The irony is that after the first major persecution in 1991-92, the Rohingya were never persecuted with such vehemence as now. The Army engaged in low key operations against the Rohingya through proxy player or sometimes directly. It denied them citizen status. The Army perhaps feared international condemnation. But now the persecution has taken a form as never before. Unashamedly the country is not only denying the Rohingya any status but driving them out with ferocity and without an iota of concern for any possible international condemnation. The number pushed out have already exceeded the 250000 in 1991-92. Myanmar’s new weapon to disarm the west’s scrutiny is the west’s own creation, Aung San Suu Kyi. And it has superficially at least put on the cross of democracy thus outwitting the west. Why is the opinion of the west important in all this? The first part of the twentieth century is still the period of the west. What matters is what the west approves and disapproves although that power of adjudicating is waning. One of the worst outcomes of this period is the sham democracies encouraged by the west. Isn’t it time to stop these prefab  ‘democratic’ crusades and let countries adopt their own systems of governance and instead concentrate on rights of citizens and minorities within these countries. It is easy for the Tutu’s of this world to condemn Aung San Suu Kyi for failing to take action, but he is part of the problem, of that collegiate of western led campaigners that create powerless propped up dollybird puppets and make believe democracies who at best sing praises of the virtues of western civilisation but carry on with even greater impunity with their excesses. There is hope. Both UK’s Theresa May and USA’s Trump have said that they need to stop making the world in their image. Let us hope that trickles down to the most pernicious crusading movement, the leftist liberal ideologies of the west. It is more important for countries to respect the dignity of citizens, shelter them and feed them than have a periodic ballot fix. // ]]>