Rohingya refugees press citizenship demands in talks with Myanmar

A 17-member Myanmar delegation, led by the permanent secretary of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mint Thowe, held a meeting with a 35-member team of Rohingya refugees on Saturday at Cox's Bazar to brief them on the latest situation at Rakhine. (Supplied photo)
Updated 28 July 2019

Rohingya refugees press citizenship demands in talks with Myanmar

  • The 17-member delegation from Myanmar arrived in Bangladesh on Friday night
  • The two sides will meet again on Sunday to finalize agenda for way forward

DHAKA: Rohingya refugees pressed their demand to be granted Myanmar citizenship in a meeting on Saturday with a delegation from Yangon.

The meeting, held at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in southeast Bangladesh, is the first between the Myanmar government and Rohingya Muslims since their exodus from their homeland in August 2017 to flee rampaging Buddhiest vigilantes.

The 17-member delegation from Myanmar arrived in Bangladesh on Friday night on a three-day visit to discuss repatriation issues with the refugees. The delegation included five members from ASEAN states led by the permanent secretary of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Myint Thu.

 A 35-member team of Rohingya community leaders participated in the Saturday meeting, which lasted for more than three hours.

The meeting is an outcome of Bangladesh’s efforts to persuade Myanmar to send a delegation to convince the Rohingyas about the situation in Rakhine —the province in Myanmar where most of the refugees came from — to help them decide about repatriation.

Sayed Ullah, secretary of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, said the refugee delegation simply pressed their citizenship demand.

”They didn’t say anything new. The Myanmar delegation members requested us to accept the National Verification Card (NVC), but what will we do with this without the citizenship rights?” Ullah told Arab News.

 ”We have demanded for further dialogue over repatriation issues in the presence of a third party and they have agreed with us," he added.

 Mohammad Shamsuddoza, of the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), said: ”The good thing is that the Myanmar side have agreed with the proposal for further dialogue. But the next date and venue of the meeting is yet to be fixed.”

 The delegation will meet the same group of Rohingyas on Sunday again, said Shamsuddoza.

 Another Bangladeshi high official who was present in the meeting said, ”Initially it took some time to break the ice during the meeting between Myanmar authorities and the Rohingya refugees. But it was fine as the time went on.”

Some Bangladeshi experts have reservations about Myanmar and its talk of repatriation.

"We shouldn’t expect much from Myanmar. They don’t recognize the Rohingya Muslims, along with other minorities of the country. The military junta wanted to make a Buddhist nationalist country in Myanmar,” Ambassador S. M. Rashed Ahmed Chowdhury, former Bangladesh envoy to Japan, told Arab News.

 He opined that all the Myanmar efforts are ”eye wash” and only to ”divert” international pressure from the country.

 Ambassador Chowdhury, who is also the former UN regional administrator of Kosovo, said: ”Myanmar should allow a buffer state in Rakhine which will be monitored and controlled by the international forces. Only the recognition of citizenship of the Rohingyas can bring a sustainable solution of the Rohingya crisis.”

 Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled the persecution of the Myanmar army in their homeland in Rakhine.

FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

Updated 09 December 2019

FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

  • Special agent Rachel Rojas thanked Saudi Arabia for its cooperation in the investigation
  • Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was shot dead after he opened fire and killed three people at the base in Florida

PENSACOLA: Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone on Friday when he killed three people and wounded eight at a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida before being fatally shot by police, the FBI said on Sunday.
Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, said the shooter used a Glock model 45 9mm handgun that he had purchased legally in Florida.
“We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case,” Rojas, the lead investigator on the case, said at a news conference.
“We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right,” she said.
Authorities confirmed the suspect was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base as part of a US Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies.
The FBI identified him as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the gunman, authorities said, ending the second deadly attack at a US military base within a week. Within hours, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had called US President Donald Trump to extend his condolences and pledge the Kingdom’s support in the investigation.
Rojas said there were several Saudi students who were close to the shooter and are cooperating with investigators.
“Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation,” she said. “I thank the kingdom for their pledge of full and complete cooperation.”

Meanwhile, a second victim was identified as Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school last year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Haitham's mother, Evelyn Brady, herself a Navy veteran, said the commander of her son's school called her and told her Haitham had tried to stop the shooter.