Junta giving emphasis on Myanmar-origin documents for verification, he says

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

"He (Chinese envoy) is yet to give any good news," Momen told reporters after his meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming on October 20.

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 he gave reminder to the Chinese ambassador regarding Bangladesh's expectations, noting that much time has passed and Dhaka keeps expecting that repatriation will start soon.

Momen said that no date has been fixed for the commencement of Rohingya repatriation.

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.

He said the Myanmar side is still saying they will provide safety and security to the Rohingyas and will create a conducive environment.

"Let's see! From the Myanmar side, there is a lack of willingness," he said.

Talking about complications, the foreign minister said the Rohingyas mostly entered Bangladesh without any documents as they were persecuted.

Now the Myanmar government is giving emphasis on Myanmar-origin documents, Momen said, adding that, "It's a big problem."

Regarding verification, he said though the Myanmar side approved few of the Rohingyas after verification the problem is that they isolated one from another while making the list. "If you take, you need to take the whole family. Otherwise it will not be sustainable if you divide a family."

Momen said the Myanmar side needs to forget seeking documents if they really want to take back their nationals.

"My discussion (with the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh) focused on Myanmar and the Rohingya issues. We think China maintains good relations with Myanmar," he said.

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."

Bangladesh, Myanmar and China agreed to work together for starting repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar under a tripartite mechanism.

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.

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.

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