Myanmar ready to welcome back ‘verified’ refugees, says Suu Kyi

Published: September 19, 2017 12:31:12 | Updated: October 22, 2017 22:10:20

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to deliver a speech to the nation over Rakhine and Rohingya situation, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar September on Tuesday. - Reuters photo

Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi says the country is ready to welcome back ‘verified’ refugees who have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh.


“We are prepared to start the verification process at any time,” Suu Kyi said on Tuesday, in her first address since the start of the latest military crackdown in Rakhine state.


The verification criteria will be based on principles agreed to in 1993.


“As our national security adviser has assured Bangladesh, and which I can confirm now, we are ready to start the verification process at any time and those who have been verified as refugees from this country will be accepted without any problems and with full assurance of their security and their access to humanitarian aid.”


Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a Rohingya repatriation agreement near the start of 1993. Approximately 236,000 Rohingyas returned to Myanmar under the agreement. The final round of the repatriations occurred in 2005, with 33,000 Rohingyas going home to Myanmar.


Suu Kyi also addressed the media reports concerning the Rohingya crisis and promised an investigation.


“I understand that many of our friends throughout the world are concerned by reports of villages being burned and of hordes of refugees fleeing,” she said. “As I said earlier there have been no conflicts since the fifth of September and no clearance operations.”


The Myanmar state counsellor said that there had been many ‘allegations and counter-allegations’ and that the government would make an effort to listen to all of them to identify the real problems.


“We have to make sure these allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action.”


“Action will be taken against all people regardless of their religion, race or political position who go against the laws of the land and who violate human rights as accepted by our international community.”


Suu Kyi touted her government’s commitment to defending the rights of all people within the borders of Myanmar, not only those of any particular community.


She also welcomed Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who had postponed a recently scheduled visit to Myanmar, to come to Naypyidaw anytime.


“We hope to take forward the arrangements with regard to the security of the border which we are trying to implement together [with Bangladesh],” she said.


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