Ns News Online Desk:Bangladesh-A senior minister in Bangladesh has condemned the Myanmar government as “evil” and said he did not believe the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees could be repatriated.
More than 700,000 Rohingya live in camps on the Bangladesh border of Myanmar after fleeing a campaign of violence by the military across Rahkine state. Many of their homes and villages were burned to the ground, thousands of people were killed and hundreds of women raped.
Bangladesh has insisted Rohingya will be sent back but speaking on Tuesday, the finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, admitted this was looking increasingly unrealistic.
“I do not believe the Rohingya can be sent back,” he said in comments reported by Hindu Business Online. “You can speculate that very few will return to Burma.
“The first reason is that Burma will only take a few and secondly is that the refugees will never return if they fear persecution.”
A repatriation agreement was signed by the two countries in November, supposedly to begin the process of returning willing Rohingya to Rahkine. It was reiterated in January, stipulating that the Rohingya should be returned within two years.
Progress has since stalled, however, with both sides blaming the other for being under prepared. There are also concerns that Rahkine remains unsafe for the minority Muslim community, with most NGOs and organizations such as the UN still banned from operating there. Meanwhile, Rohingya continue to stream over the border to escape persecution.
Muhith was outspoken in his condemnation of Myanmar and he described the government as evil. He also criticized its approach to repatriation, saying it would “take 15 [Rohingya refugees] a day when there is 1 million”.
“They are evil, a rogue government,” he said. “We have no weakness in diplomacy, everyone is supporting us. But, Burmese are not trustworthy.”
His comments come at a time when Bangladesh-Myanmar relations have been antagonized further by a build-up of Myanmar troops on the border, close to a strip of land housing about 6,000 Rohingya. The Myanmar government insisted it was to protect against terrorism.
While the Bangladesh prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has welcomed the persecuted Rohingya, there are signs that the country’s patience is being tested by the hundreds of thousands of refugees occupying land.