Myanmar will allow the return of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in the state of Rakhine, according to Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
“Asean expressed concern for the Rohingya people, and Myanmar responded by saying that the repatriation of the IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) will begin in three weeks after Myanmar signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Bangladesh,” Roque said after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit plenary session hosted by Manila.
“The Kofi Annan report is being addressed, and humanitarian assistance [for the Rohingyas]is welcomed,” Roque added, referring to the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by former UN Chief Kofi Annan which called on Myanmar to stop the violence in Rakhine.
The Annan report, however, did not identify the victims as Rohingya but as a Muslim community in Rakhine “which has become particularly vulnerable to human rights violations due to protracted statelessness and profound discrimination.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in September that the violence suffered by the Rohingyas under Myanmar’s state forces is a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.
Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte joined Myanmar in calling on Asean members to send aid to Rohingya.
“I can confirm that the plight of the Rohingya people has been discussed in the plenary, it was raised by two Asean member countries, and Myanmar said they welcome humanitarian assistance,” Roque said.
He said Asean member states have yet to commit aid to the Rohingyas.
“As to which country will provide what, there was no discussion about it. What was said was a general statement from Myanmar welcoming humanitarian assistance,” Roque said.
The United Nations, led by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, has called for a swift action on the plight of the Rohingya, warning that it is the world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.
“We have received bone-chilling accounts from those who fled. This is unacceptable and must end immediately,” Guterres said in September.