Beijing on Thursday informed Dhaka about Myanmar’s assurances of taking back the Rohingyas.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a phone call told his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen that Myanmar was willing to start afresh the discussions on Rohingya repatriation after its national elections on November 8.
He made the phone call while the international community was pledging funds to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas, at a virtual conference of donors.
“Myanmar informed China that it is working to take back the Rohingyas when the Covid-19 situation improves,” said a foreign ministry statement yesterday.
Wang Yi also proposed an ambassador-level meeting and a trilateral senior official-level meeting among China, Bangladesh and Myanmar. He said the trilateral meeting could be held in Dhaka at the earliest.
Earlier on October 11, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming expressed frustration over the fact that the repatriation has not begun in over three years since some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine State in 2017 and came to Bangladesh.
Dhaka has been vocal in stating that the Rohingya crisis could destabilise the region and deter foreign investors and made it clear that Bangladesh could not bear the burden of the nearly a million Rohingyas any longer.
The UN Security Council has not taken any concrete measure against Myanmar due to opposition by China and Russia.
China, a close ally of Myanmar, has been trying to facilitate a bilateral solution to the crisis.
As the US-China relations hit rock bottom, the US is boosting its relations with the Indo-Pacific countries. A US diplomat recently said the country would work with urgency to address the humanitarian needs of the Rohingyas and to find a lasting resolution.
Following a recent visit to Delhi and Dhaka, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said China had done very little to help resolve the Rohingya issue.
At the donor’s conference, co-hosted by the US, UK, EU and UN Refugee Agency, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the UN Security Council’s five permanent member states had special obligations in ending the violence in Myanmar.
He said the US will continue to advocate for a sustainable solution that creates the conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and other displaced persons to their places of origin or to a place of their choice.
The co-hosts in a joint statement said Myanmar should provide a pathway to citizenship and freedom of movement for the Rohingyas.
Myanmar must provide justice for the victims of human rights abuse, they said.
Wang Yi also assured Momen of providing the Chinese vaccine for Covid-19 to Bangladesh on a priority basis and expressed his interest in working with Bangladesh in the post-pandemic economic recovery.
The Chinese-funded projects in Bangladesh will pick up pace after the pandemic, he said.
THE GAMBIA FILES MEMORIAL
The Gambia yesterday filed a more than 500-page memorial in its lawsuit against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, showing how Myanmar government is responsible for genocide against the Rohingyas.
The memorial includes over 5,000 pages of supporting materials substantiating the case. The Gambia opened a case at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, in November last year against Myanmar for failing to prevent genocide against Rohingyas.
After a preliminary hearing, the Court issued an order asking Myanmar to take provisional measures to prevent further acts of genocide in Rakhine.
After the Gambia’s initial filing, the ICJ found there were substances in their claims. Based on that, it agreed to go further with the case. That’s why the Gambia has filed the memorial.
“This is a significant step towards Rohingya justice. However, success of the case will depend on how strong the evidence included in the memorial is,” said Prof Mizanur Rahman, an expert on international law.
Following the filing by The Gambia, Myanmar has three months to file a counter-memorial at the ICJ. The Memorial and Counter-Memorial will not be made public for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last several years, said regional rights body Fortify Rights in a statement.
“It is another step towards justice for Rohingya,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights.
International accountability mechanisms, like the ICJ, are crucial, especially given that mass atrocity crimes continue against Rohingya and others in Myanmar, he added.
Myanmar should immediately comply with the ICJ orders to prevent ongoing acts of genocide and preserve evidence of genocide against Rohingya Muslims, said Fortify Rights.