Editorial Notes

Devil is in the details of Rohingya repatriation deal: The Daily Star

In an apparent breakthrough to the months-long Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a pact on Nov 23 agreeing that the return of the Rohingya should start within two months. In its editorial on Nov 27, Bangladesh's The Daily Star newspaper said the devil is in the details of the deal, which it refers to as the Arrangement.

The success of the Arrangement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar depends on how effectively the repatriation is completed within a specific timeframe. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Bangladesh has always preferred problem-resolution with its neighbours through dialogue and negotiations.

Thus the Arrangement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar, we feel, is a positive development of sorts. But any optimism that we would like to hold will have to be guarded since like all other mutual understandings the devil is in the details.

The success of the Arrangement depends on how effectively the repatriation is completed within a specific timeframe.

It is evident that Myanmar has wilted under international pressure which was being ratcheted up increasingly with newer revelations of Rohingya persecution every day.

We are happy to note the support we have received from the West on the matter. And we note the shift in India's stand on the issue from its open support to Myanmar initially.

Though China is a good friend of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, it works with the latter on a different equation.

Thus the importance of China's role in the quick repatriation of the Rohingyas as well a permanent resolution of the problem, cannot be over emphasised.

Needless to say, given our past experience there is ground for pessimism regarding the final outcome of the arrangement. And it is for Myanmar to dispel all misgivings by taking actions on the ground that would attest to its positive attitude towards fulfilling the objectives of the understanding.

Thus, pending the finalisation of the terms of reference of the Joint Working Group, Myanmar must ensure that all violence on the Rohingyas cease forthwith. It must also create a conducive atmosphere for its people to return.

But there are several other issues that must also be thrashed out if the deal has to be followed through. For example, the burden of proof of identity of the forcibly displaced is on the victims. How does one expect people running for their lives to carry their ID? They were living in an apartheid condition with no school to go to or business to run.

We feel that the final decision, in cases of disputes regarding eligibility to return should not be left alone to only one of the two parties.

The Arrangement, we must emphasise, does not mean the end but only the beginning of the end.

Neither should it mean the end of engagement of the international community with the Rohingya issue.

The focus of the world must not be shifted, instead, international pressure on Myanmar for a permanent resolution of the problem must continue unabated.

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