Deal signed to return Myanmar Rohingya

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday met with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali in Naypyitaw. "After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya".

The determination increases pressure on the Trump administration to consider "possible targeted sanctions" against Myanmar's government and those blamed for the crisis.

While repeating USA condemnation of the insurgent attacks, he added: "No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued". More desperate Rohingya, sometimes dozens, sometimes hundreds, arrive every day.

The State Department had previously expressed concern over Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya Muslims, but had stopped short of calling the situation ethnic cleansing.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed on to that designation, with senior State Department officials saying that the determination by the U.S. of "ethnic cleansing" is meant to "express our sense of urgency about the situation".

Myanmar's government has repeatedly rejected claims that atrocities, including rape and extrajudicial killings, are occurring in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence that the United Nations has qualified as "textbook ethnic cleansing".

However, the Bangladesh foreign minister last month said Dhaka did not agree to Naypyitaw's proposal for following the principle and criteria of the 1992 deal to take back the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals.

"Many refugees have suffered direct attacks including loved ones, children and husbands being killed in front of them, wives and daughters being raped, burns and other horrific injuries", Senator Jeff Merkley told a press conference at the US embassy in Yangon.

Aid groups say it's a struggle just to provide basic essentials in the mega-camp.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday on the return of Rohingya people who fled the Rakhine state in the wake of a military crackdown.

Mr. Sullivan, who visited the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh in May (when the numbers were much smaller) and then again in September, says he would not be able to tie the dearth of services for Rohingya women and girls to cuts in U.S. funding, "although it makes sense to me", he adds.

Since October 2016, the conflict between Myanmar's Buddhist majority and the predominantly Muslim Rohingya has escalated considerably.

Myanmar has insisted that any return of the ethnic minority be negotiated bilaterally, presumably because less global involvement would mean less pressure on the country throughout the process.

The group called on Myanmar to institute an action plan to combat discrimination, reform discriminatory laws and policies, and make sure that those responsible for crimes against humanity are held accountable. In today's interconnected, pluralistic world, he says, we need to "celebrate our diversity and accept that what unites us is much more important than what divides us", rather than stressing "divisions and hatred that some feel".

"The lack of transparency in releasing the text so far is emblematic of the larger lack of any sort of meaningful consultation with the refugees that these two governments want to load on to trucks and send back in two months' time", Phil Roberts, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, told DVB.

  • Joey Payne