Will the military council accept the repatriation of Rohingya refugees? Some Myanmar oppositions were arrested in Mae Sot

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – March 22 Scenes

MoeMaKa, March 23 2023

Will the military council accept the repatriation of Rohingya refugees?
Some Myanmar oppositions were arrested in Mae Sot


The military council has been working continuously these days for the first time to accept around 1,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since 2017. The Rakhine State government of the military council, at the ministerial level, visited the Bangladesh refugee camp and interviewed those who had registered for repatriation and it seems that some of those who registered will return to Myanmar in the near future. The military council does not use the term as ‘Rohingya’ for Rohingya refugees, and when they return to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, it is not exactly known whether they will be allowed to live, work and eat in the region or village where they previously lived. Since the NLD regime, readmission camps have been built, and it was mentioned in the readmission plans of the NLD regime before the military seized power that they would have to live in these camps for a few months.


Trying to repatriate around 1,000 Rohingya refugees out of the nearly one million Rohingya refugees is a comparatively small number. If the 1,000 registrants have been accepted, it is not yet clear how many more will be accepted, or whether there will be more registrations.


While no one has been prosecuted for the mass killings of unarmed civilians or genocide committed by the military in recent years, and no official has yet apologized or been punished, the plan to repatriate some of the refugees has been implemented.


The military council, which has been diplomatically ostracized internationally, is clearly eager to show that such a repatriation has done during their rule. In other words, in a situation where they have not received any international recognition diplomatically, it is clear that the number of 1,000 out of nearly 1,000,000 refugees in this case is acceptable in terms of quality, although it is too small in terms of quantity.


Some Rohingya refugees may have decided for repatriation because they want to be free from the various hardships of refugee camps, including physical stress and mental trauma, and are not wishing to continue to live there for years as they have been living there for almost 6 years as refugees in Bangladesh which is a Myanmar’s neighboring country, in a crowded and unhealthy environment without any opportunity to earn a living or get an education. In any case, due to the number of Rohingya refugees who will return to Myanmar, it must be evaluated whether the way to solve the refugee problem is still open by just accepting the repatriation of one thousand Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.


Another piece of news for today is that on the afternoon of March 21st, the Thai police and army entered a 4-story building where Myanmar nationals live in Mae Sot, Tak District, Thailand, and arrested some Myanmar nationals. During the inspection, drones, talking devices and some military equipment were found, according to Thai-language media and some English-language Thai media outlets. There are tens of thousands of people living in Mae Sot, Thailand, who fled for political reasons. A small number of them went to third countries, but there are tens of thousands of people who opposed the military council, those who were issued warrants for participating in CDM, and those who fled because of the threat of arrest.


All such people do not come with a passport, which is called a legal identity, and when they are arrested by the Thai police or immigration, they try to escape by paying bribes and continue to live in this city.


 Among those who live like this, there are many people who raise funds for armed groups in Myanmar, who buy and deliver necessary supplies, and many organizations.


The Thai police, army, and authorities are aware of this situation to some extent. On the one hand, the Thai government wants to maintain relations with the military council, and on the other hand, it seems that the Thai government is working on a policy not to suppress and arrest the opposition in Myanmar due to the urgings and statements of Western allies and not to prevent refugees from coming in at all. Myanmar’s opposition forces and ethnic armed groups should keep a close eye on the changes in the Thai government’s policy and political situation, which will hold elections soon.