Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, said the government would allow ethnic Rohingya Muslims who could prove they had lived in the country to return, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Speaking to foreign diplomats in the national capital Naypyitaw on Tuesday, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said her country had nothing to fear amid international condemnation of its treatment of the Muslim minorities, saying Myanmar had never been “soft on human rights”, the newspaper said.
More than 410,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh over the past three weeks to escape Myanmar’s armed forces, the report said.
“We are ready to start the verification process at any time,” Suu Kyi said, referring to the government’s plan to allow the return of “verified” refugees. Myanmar considers the Rohingya as illegal immigrants.
However, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh said Suu Kyi’s promise to allow their repatriation is meaningless because they are being asked to meet impossible criteria, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Few Rohingya have documents to prove their existence and many of the refugees in Bangladesh are deliberately avoiding registration, fearing they could be forced back, ABC said.
According to an agreement on the return of Rohingya refugees, only those registered by the Bangladeshi government can be considered, thus ruling out 99 percent of the new arrivals, the report said.
In a telephone call on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the plight of Rohingya refugees with Suu Kyi, urging the government and military to facilitate humanitarian aid and address allegations of human rights abuses, WSJ quoted State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as saying.
Other countries, particularly India and China, have been supportive of Myanmar’s military operations along its western border.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday that Beijing “understands and supports” Myanmar’s efforts to step up security in the area, the Journal said.
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