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Rohingya repatriation: No good news yet from Chinese side

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said the Chinese side is yet come up with any good news on the Rohingya repatriation but they are continuing their efforts to that end.

“My key discussion (with Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh) today focused on Myanmar and the Rohingya issues,” he told reporters after his meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming, reports UNB.

The hour-long meeting was held at the State guesthouse Padma while the Foreign Minister briefed the media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Momen said the Chinese side is trying to help find a solution. “They (China) are the facilitator, not the decision maker. We are requesting them again and again,” he said, adding that the Bangladesh side is keeping them under pressure.

The current Myanmar government honours all the previous agreements signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar and expressed willingness to take back the Rohingyas after verification. “That’s good news but there is no specific date (when repatriation will begin),” Momen said.

The Foreign Minister said the Rohingya issue is a priority issue for Bangladesh. “We need a quick and sustainable resolution to the crisis.”

Responding to a question, Momen said there has been no discussion on Teesta issue with the Chinese Ambassador. “I said this issue was never raised to me.”

Momen said he conveyed the Chinese Ambassador to play a role so that the Rohingyas living on zero point can be taken back inside the Myanmar side.

Responding to a question, he said, “I am always a very optimistic person.”

He, however, said the situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border has improved what he sees as good news.

Brokered by China, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement for starting repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar under a tripartite mechanism, but the process remained stalled.

The idea of a tripartite mechanism among Bangladesh, China and Myanmar came four years ago in New York to evaluate the situation on the ground and take steps for the early repatriation and there had been few meetings.

Ambassador Jiming at a recent event indicated that they are going to formally share the “feedback” with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka based on what they talked with the Myanmar side. “I am not going to disclose it right now.”

Despite assurance from Myanmar, not a single person was taken back over the last five years. Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char.

On October 13, the Chinese envoy said the key to the Rohingya issue is building confidence between the stakeholders, not the unilateral efforts from a certain country.

He said China has been working on Bangladesh and Myanmar to help to resolve the Rohingya issue through talks because both Bangladesh and Myanmar are China’s friendly neighbors.

Thus, he said, the Chinese side hopes Bangladesh and Myanmar could work in the same direction so that the repatriation could start at an early date.

On October 17, Momen said Myanmar “should keep their promise” for the repatriation of the Rohingya to “their place of origin in Rakhine State.”

Momen also criticised the countries which are doing “business as usual” with Myanmar though they talk about human rights issues.

They made a commitment to create a condition for a safe and dignified return, but the saddest thing is that not a single Rohingya could return, he said.

Noting Myanmar’s internal problems, the foreign minister said where there is a will, there is a way despite those problems.