Bangladesh, US expect good results on accountability front

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has said China hopes to see an early repatriation of Rohingyas and an eventual solution to the problem saying they want to see the results that will come out from the top UN court in The Hague.

On China's view towards the case filed by The Gambia against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for violating the Genocide Convention, Ambassador Li said that China upholds the international order based on international law.

"Right now, let's wait and see what results will come out the court in The Hague," said the Chinese Ambassador during his recent visit to Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps adding that the Rohingya issue is complicated with deep historical and political roots.

Bangladesh and other countries including the United States are expecting good results on accountability front.

"We feel proud that a country like The Gambia came forward with the case. The hearing was a good one," said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen.

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller Ambassador Miller said the United States supports justice for victims and accountability for the perpetrators of serious abuses as important element of Myanmar's ongoing democratic transition.

"To date, there has yet to be any meaningful accountability for the perpetrators of the horrific abuses in northern Rakhine State that led to fleeing of more than 740,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh," he said.

Bangladesh delegation, led by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, made Bangladesh's presence felt through various engagements among the international community during the three-day hearing at The Hague on December 10-12 as the UN court heard the genocide case against Myanmar.

Bangladesh appreciated the accountability efforts at ICJ lodged by Gambia on crimes committed on Rohingyas allegedly with genocidal intent by Myanmar. Bangladesh also underscored complementarities between accountability and creation of an atmosphere conducive to sustainable repatriation.

Rohingyas and rights activists have accused Myanmar of murder, rape, torture, arson and loot - charges denied by the military. Many have called it an ethnic cleansing campaign. In October, the head of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned that "there is a serious risk of genocide recurring".

Ambassador Li said China supports Bangladesh and Myanmar to solve the issue through bilateral means with the international community playing a constructive role. All other countries, the Ambassador said, should avoid the risk of further complicating the situation.

On December 11 to 12, Ambassador Jiming accompanied Chen Zhu, Vice President of IFRC and Chairman of Red Cross Society of China to visit Cox's Bazar.

Ambassador Li said the visit marks another important move of China in carrying forward the consensuses achieved during the third informal meeting between China, Bangladesh and Myanmar in New York this September, and another significant step of China in finding a solution to the Rohingya issue.

Chen Zhu met with key officials from RRRC, UNHCR and BDRCS, had in-depth exchanges over the current situation, and visited relevant projects by BDRCS and UNHCR in the camps.

Chen just came out of a side meeting in Geneva focusing on the Rohingya issue before the visit to Bangladesh, where he publicly called for coordinated actions from IFRC for continued humanitarian support for Bangladesh.

Ambassador Li said China highly respects and commends Bangladesh's humanitarian acts of receiving and providing the displaced Rohingya people with food and shelter.

Beijing Seeks Sustainable Solution

"As a trustworthy friend and partner of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, China plays a unique role in the effort to find a sustainable solution to the issue. And we have been taking actions since the very beginning," said the Ambassador.

Back in November 2017, not long after the outbreak of the current Rohingya crisis, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Bangladesh and Myanmar to mediate between the two neighbors and came up with the suggestion of a three-phased solution, namely "cessation of violence, repatriation, and development", which has served as an important road map for the repatriation endeavor, according to Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.

In the past two years, Sate Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired three rounds of informal meetings between China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, with wide consensus being achieved, it said.

During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to China in July this year, President Xi mentioned to her that China appreciates Bangladesh's generosity to shelter the displaced people, and will support all concerned parties to handle the issue properly through friendly negotiation.

Ambassador Li told the media that apart from political efforts in advancing the repatriation process, China also contributes in humanitarian support for the Rohingya people.

On September 27 and 28, 2017, one month right after the violent incident in Rakhine State that triggered the huge influx of Rohingyas into Bangladesh, two Chinese cargo flights carrying 2000 emergency tents and 3000 blankets arrived at Chattogram International Airport in support of Bangladesh to accommodate the temporarily displaced Roghingyas.

During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to China in July this year, China and Bangladesh signed an agreement where China would provide 2500 metric tonnes of rice to help the Rohingyas.

And the first batch of the rice has already arrived in Chattogram at the beginning of December, said the Embassy.

Besides, in view of the highly constrained medical resources available for both the Rohingyas and the local community in and around the camps, China also deployed a medical team to provide free health care services to the people in need.

The team arrived in Cox's Bazar last month and it has so far distributed hundreds of emergency medical kits.

Following the important political commitment demonstrated by leaders from all threecountries, China has been taking proactive actions to encourage the commencement of the repatriation process.

One is the establishment of the tripartite joint working mechanism, directly led by Ambassadors of China and Myanmar to Bangladesh and DG of Myanmar Wing of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh.

The mechanism is aimed at delving into technical and operational difficulties in the repatriation process through candid and frequent discussions, and some common ground has been successfully identified during the first meeting of the joint working mechanism, said the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.

Verified Rohingyas, Hindus Prioritised

The 3450 Rohingyas who have been verified by Bangladesh and Myanmar, the Hindu Rohingyas and those living along the "zero-line" are prioritized groups for early repatriation, the Chinese Embassy said.

Myanmar will engage more with the displaced people for trust building by sending senior delegation to Cox's Bazar and having face-to-face talks with the Rohingya people, and it will change the wording on NVC to removing misunderstanding, it said.

Bangladesh agreed to allocate more resources and manpower to Cox's Bazar and to adopt a more pragmatic approach to repatriation, said the Embassy.

Ambassador Li said the successful repatriation experiences between Bangladesh and Myanmar from the past clearly suggest that the issue should be solved bilaterally, while soliciting intervention from outside would most likely add to the complexity of the problem.

He said China believes that it is in the best interest of everyone that other countries in the world, including China, should only offer constructive help and mediation. "And this is exactly what China has been doing the whole time."

There seems to be an over exaggeration of what kind of role China could play in solving the issue, as a great number of people tend to overestimate China's "influence" over Myanmar, said a media release issued by the Chinese Embassy here.

If someone thinks repatriation will happen simply by China pressuring Myanmar, or that Myanmar will do whatever China says, China is given too much credit, it said.

"Please remember that Myanmar is a sovereign country as Bangladesh is. What China can do is to offer suggestions and coordination as a friend of equal status, and it totally depends on Myanmar that whether they would accept it or not, said the Chinese Ambassador.

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