Bangladesh has turned to China to facilitate an early start of repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

A secretary-level meeting between Bangladesh and Myanmar, mediated by China, will be held on January 19 in Dhaka.

Top Bangladesh officials have informed that the issue of repatriating Rohingya refugees would dominate the discussions at during the meeting.

Myanmar has so far has expressed reservations on the issues related to repatriation of hundreds and thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Myanmar has not cooperated in ironing out issues to do with the return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, but Bangladesh is hopeful that some headway will made in the upcoming meeting,” said Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Minister AK Abdul Momen.

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“We hope it will be a fruitful meeting,” Momen said.

Meanwhile, Global Human Rights groups and the West are instead ‘pressurizing’ Bangladesh to rehabilitate nearly one million Rohingya refugees and opposing their relocation to the offshore island of Bhasan Char.

On the other hand, Bangladesh has defended the relocation citing it as the “only viable option” to provide reasonable space to nearly 100,000 Rohingyas.

Bangladesh has further urged the superpowers to instead ‘pressurize’ Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen insisted that Repatriation rather than rehabilitation should dominate the Rohingya discourse, as it was “impossible for a poor and an overcrowded country” like Bangladesh to permanently absorb one million Rohingyas.

Momen, meanwhile, has urged both India and China to use influence over Myanmar to persuade them to take back the Rohingyas without creating “needless procedural fuss”.

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China has however voted against a recent UN motion pulling up Myanmar for Rohingya atrocities while India abstained.

Both India and China have, however, assured Bangladesh that they will use their goodwill with Myanmar for an early solution to the Rohingya issue.

Subir Bhaumik

Subir Bhaumik is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. He can be reached at: sbhaum@gmail.com