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Burma’s Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi told DVB yesterday the government has promulgated a policy aimed at repatriating Rohingya refugees who recently fled violence in western Burma.
“Regarding the Bengalis who left across the border, we have policies to accept them back,” said Khin Yi, who referred to the Rohingya’s as Bengalis.
“Basically, they should [be able to prove] that they really left from Burma and that they are willing to come back. For children, they should be able to prove that both their parents went [to Bangladesh] from Burma. We are ready to repatriate anyone who meets these requirements.”
The minister said the deal had been discussed with the Bangladeshi government.
Meanwhile, the RNDP’s chairman Dr Aye Maung said that according to the 1982 citizenship law, only those who have inhabited the region prior to 1824 should be legally considered an ethnic native and that the ‘Bengalis’ are just immigrants who came in to Burma [after British colonisation].
The year 1824, when the British conquered large swathes of western Burma, including present day Arakan state, often serves as a demarcation date in the debate concerning who is native to the area.
Dr Aye Maung also said that President Thein Sein should clarify the government’s position on the Rohingya and state that the group is not from Burma during his trip to Bangladesh next month.
“Just like the Bangladeshi prime minister said – they have made clear that [Rohingyas] aren’t their citizens, so we hope our president will also make clear that they aren’t ours either,” said Dr Aye Maung.
On 26 June, the RNDP published a statement calling for the isolation and eventual expulsion of Rohingya’s from Burma.
“The Bengalis have been entering Arakan state over time through various illegal means and their population currently has reached very alarming numbers,” read the statement.
There are an estimated 800,000 Rohingyas living in Burma.
The RNDP went on to call “for all ethnic nationalities in the Union [of Burma] to join hands in preventing the Bengalis from intruding by various means into Arakan state and the whole of Burma” and asked the UN and the international community to “set up a time frame to resettle to the Bengalis who are not Burmese citizens to a third country”.
– Aye Nai contributed reporting to this article.