India says Myanmar must take back its Rohingya ‘nationals’

Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wait for their turn to receive food handouts distributed to children and women by a Turkish aid agency at Thaingkhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. UNICEF says the children who make up most of the nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in Myanmar are seeing a "hell on earth" in overcrowded, muddy and squalid refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Children account for 58 percent of the refugees who have poured into Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, over the last eight weeks. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN Desk) – Rohingya have been arriving in Bangladesh with stories of horror, loss, murder, rape and villages burned to the ground over the last two months. That testimony and other evidence led the United Nations to term the crisis “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

India is pressuring Myanmar to take back more than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya who have fled violence and taken refuge in Bangladesh, insisting they are Myanmar nationals.

“Myanmar must take back their nationals,” visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday, reports the Daily Star.

“This is a big burden for Bangladesh. How long will Bangladesh bear it? There should be a permanent solution to this crisis,” Swaraj said.

Myanmar refuses to recognise the Rohingya as its own citizens, claiming they are interlopers from Bangladesh. India does not share that view. “Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine State,” the Indian minister said.

Voicing concern over the situation in Myanmar, Swaraj said, “India is deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar. We have urged that the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population.

“We have also supported the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Kofi Annan-led Special Advisory Commission report.”

Swaraj’s visit comes at a time when Bangladesh is struggling to deal with a large influx of Rohingya that began on August 25 after a crackdown by Myanmar forces in Rakhine.

Swaraj said, “The only long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine state is rapid socio-economic and infrastructure development that would have a positive impact on all the communities living in the state.

“India, for its part, has committed to provide financial and technical assistance for identified projects to be undertaken in Rakhine State in conjunction with the local authorities.”

Rohingya have been arriving in Bangladesh with stories of horror, loss, murder, rape and villages burned to the ground over the last two months. That testimony and other evidence led the United Nations to term the crisis “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Yet growing international condemnation has done little to curb the crackdown in Rakhine. The global response to the crisis remains “inadequate”, reports the Daily Star, calling the role of the UN Security Council “appalling” in limiting itself to an expression of concern over “excessive violence” by Myanmar security forces in

Rakhine, after China and Russia objected to stronger action.

Eleven Media reports that a verification process is under way for the remaining population in Rakhine. National verification cards (NVCs) have been given to more than 2,600 people from northern, eastern and middle Shwezar villages in Maungdaw Township, a hotspot for violence over the past two months. About 400,000

people in Rakhine have returned temporary identity cards, which expired in 2015. Up until January this year, over 6,000 NVCs had been issued in exchange.

Rakhine now has 30 relief camps hosting over 2,600 displaced people from Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Yathedaung, Eleven Media reports.