Myanmar Diplomats to Begin Talks With Bangladesh Over Rohingya Refugees

A special diplomatic team from Myanmar will begin talks with their counterparts in Bangladesh on Wednesday in a bid to reduce growing tensions with the neighboring country over the tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled there from Myanmar following violence that began in northern Rakhine state in early October.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Kyaw Tin will lead the team which will return from Dhaka to Myanmar on Friday, said foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman Aye Aye Soe.

“The deputy minister and the group will be there from Jan. 10-13 to discuss the two countries’ relations and internally displaced persons,” she said.

“They will also discuss Myanmar citizens who have been living in Bangladesh for several years and how both countries will work together on this issue in the future,” she said.

A previous trip slated for last December was postponed for security reasons.

Bangladesh’s foreign affairs ministry has complained several times to Myanmar about the influx of Rohingya Muslims-now estimated to be 65,000 by the United Nations-who fled a crackdown by security forces in northern Rakhine following deadly attacks on Myanmar border guard stations on Oct. 9, and sought refuge in Bangladesh.

Some members of the stateless minority group have accused Myanmar security forces of arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and arson during the security operation, though both the government and army have denied the charges.

Independent media and observers have largely been kept out of the conflict zone.

On Dec. 30, the Myanmar government said it will take back 2,415 of its citizens living in Bangladesh-a small number of the 300,000 people who Bangladesh says are Myanmar citizens who have taken refuge there over the course of recent conflicts and should return home, Reuters reported.

Bangladesh has refused to grant the Rohingya refugee status because it considers them citizens of Myanmar, while Myanmar considers the Rohingya illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has denied then citizenship and access to basic services for decades.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036