RAKHINE: Myanmar has said it is ready to take back all Rohingya refugees who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh if they wish to returned voluntarily, Reuters reported.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya fled mainly Buddhist Myanmar after a violent army crackdown began last August in the western state of Rakhine, a process that the US and UN have described as “ethnic cleansing”.
“If you can send back 7,00,000 on a voluntary basis, we are willing to receive them,” National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. “Can this be called ethnic cleansing? There is no war going on, so it’s not war crimes. Crimes against humanity, that could be a consideration, but we need clear evidence. These serious charges should be proved and they should not be bandied about lightly.”
United Nations describes the Myanmar’s treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” an accusation Myanmar rejects.
Thaung Tun said that the narrative of what happened in Rakhine was “incomplete and misleading”.
“Myanmar does not deny that what is unfolding in northern Rakhine is a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “There is no denying that the Muslim community in Rakhine has suffered. The Buddhist Rakhine, Hindu and other ethnic minorities have suffered no less.”
Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens, claiming they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite their long roots in Rakhine state, which has led to continued discrimination against the community, including restrictions on their freedom of movement.