ASEAN leaders have reiterated the need to find a comprehensive and durable solution to the Rohingya crisis by addressing the root causes of the conflict in Rakhine State.
The heads of state and government of Asean member countries gathered in Bangkok for the 35th Asean Summit on Friday and Saturday. They encouraged the continued and effective dialogue between Myanmar and Bangladesh to facilitate the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin Rakhine.
They emphasised the efforts to create a “conducive environment” so that Rohingyas, now sheltered in Bangladesh, could rebuild their lives, according to a 52-point statement issued at the summit.
They recalled the arrangement on “Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State” between Myanmar and Bangladesh, signed in 2017, and looked forward to the voluntary return of displaced persons in a “safe, secure, and dignified” manner.
The Asean leaders supported the implementation of the three points reached at the informal meeting between the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Myanmar and China on September 23 in New York to facilitate the implementation of the Bangladesh-Myanmar bilateral agreements on repatriation.
They encouraged Myanmar to continue to implement the remaining recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
“We expect that the Independent Commission of Enquiry, established by the Government of Myanmar, would seek accountability by carrying out an independent and impartial investigation into alleged human rights violations and related issues,” read a statement issued after the Summit.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who had fled their homes in Rakhine state after suffering decades of persecution at the hands of the state in Myanmar.
Myanmar has not officially taken back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years, but the country has claimed that 397 displaced Rohingya have voluntarily returned to Myanmar from Bangladesh.
Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar failed to recover trust among the Rohingya community who cited a lack of safety and security in Rakhine for them to return.
Last week, Bangladesh accused Myanmar of remaining engaged in a “persistent campaign” to mislead the international community to avoid its obligations for “sustained repatriation” and reintegration of the Rohingyas.
THE DAILY STAR/ANN