Myanmar tells UN Rohingya refugees can return from Bangladesh

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More than half a million Rohingya have fled from a Myanmar military crackdown in Rakhine State launched in late August that has been denounced by the United Nations as ethnic cleansing and placed a huge burden on Bangladesh.

A Sri Lankan court remanded a Buddhist monk in custody on Monday after charging him with leading hardline nationalists in a protest against 31 Rohingya Muslim asylum seekers last week, forcing the refugees to flee a United Nations safe house, police said.

Foreign Minister Ali, briefing media persons later, disclosed about Myanmar's proposal to take back its nationals.

"We are looking forward to a peaceful solution to the crisis", said Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali.

Rohingya refugees arrive at Shah Porir Dwip in Bangladesh.

"The two parties have agreed on a proposal to create a joint working group responsible for coordinating the process of repatriation", said Mahmood Ali, without giving any indication of dates for the beginning of the process.

"Bangladesh has proposed a bilateral agreement [with Myanmar] to help implement the repatriation", he said. Ever since the latest flare-up of violence against the community in Myanmar this year, almost 4 lakh Rohingyas have fled the state, pouring into nearby countries like Bangladesh seeking refuge.

There were already about 300,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh before the most recent exodus.

It may be mentioned that over 6,000 Rohingya people reportedly entered Bangladesh through Ulubunia point in Teknaf yesterday fearing fresh persecutions in Rakhine.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes, and torched Rohingya villages. However, an Advisory Commission on Rakhine State headed by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, is probing into the truths of Rakhine and Rohingyas.

The Centre said the Rohingya refugees were illegals and their continuous stay pose a grave security threat. The problem was resolved through diplomatic initiatives in sixteen months.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on May 12, 1993 between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for an end to the violence and for safe zones to be set up in Burma to enable refugees to return.

The Rapid Action Battalion raided a village near the border with Myanmar late Monday to free the Rohingya Muslims who had been held there for a day, said Major Ruhul Amin.

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