10/25/2017, 14.19
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Myanmar and Bangladesh sign agreements on Rohingya, security, and cooperation

The two countries yesterday signed two Memoranda of Understanding to stop the exodus, restore normality in the Rakhine and discuss plans for the repatriation of some 600,000 Rohingya. The Myanmar army defends its actions in Rakhine. The US imposes new restrictions.

Nay Pyi Daw (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to beef up security cooperation and set up border liaison offices to address the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. However, the two countries failed to reach an agreement on the repatriation of refugees who fled recent violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine's State.

Myanmar Home Affairs Minister Lieutenant General January Kyaw Swe and his Bangladesh counterpart, Mostafa Kamal Uddin (pictured), yesterday signed two memorandums of understanding in Nay Pyi Daw. The two senior government officials met in the Myanmar capital to discuss plans for the repatriation of some 600,000 Rohingya.

The two sides agreed on the need to stop the exodus and restore normality in Rakhine. The meeting focused in particular on the opening of liaison offices, anti-terrorism cooperation, drug trafficking, intelligence sharing, regular bilateral meetings and border security.

Last month, Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to begin a process to repatriate the refugees under a 1993 agreement that allows the return of Rohingya who can prove residence in Myanmar.

At a meeting on 2 October in Dhaka, Myanmar and Bangladeshi government officials agreed to form a joint working group comprised of officials from the two countries.

“The Myanmar authorities have informed our honourable minister that the joint working group will be formed by Nov. 30,” said Sharif Mahmud Apu, the public relations officer of Bangladesh’s Home Ministry, speaking to BenarNews. “They have also assured us that they will take the Rohingya refugees back,” he added.

A statement issued later in the day said that Bangladesh’s Home Ministry said Myanmar authorities agreed to a “sustainable” repatriation of Myanmar citizens from Bangladesh.

“We are however yet to rebuild infrastructure and draw up resettlement plans to accept them back. These works are being handled by state leaders themselves, and so it is difficult to predict [when they will be complete],” said U Tint Myint, permanent secretary of the home affairs ministry.

“We didn’t discuss plans for refugees. What we discussed is repatriation – to verify and accept back those who have settled in Myanmar and fled to Bangladesh after violence,” said police Brig-Gen Aung Htay Myint of the cross-border crime department.

Officials from both sides who participated in the ministerial-level meeting also discussed implementing the recommendations by the Myanmar government-appointed Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan

Meanwhile, the Myanmar military has defended its actions and rejected the harsh criticisms of the international community, threats of sanctions, and allegations of ethnic cleansing.

The military yesterday released its own version of what happened in Rakhine, responding to new restrictions imposed on the Myanmar Armed Forces by the United States.

On Monday, the US Department of State announced plans to impose travel bans on Myanmar military leaders, and listed targeted economic sanctions against individuals associated with atrocities.

Washington also cancelled invitations for officials to attend US-sponsored events and excluded the units involved in Rakhine operations from any US assistance programme.

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