SINGAPORE: Myanmar is willing to take back all 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled to Bangladesh if they volunteer to return, the country’s National Security Adviser Thaung Tun said on Saturday.
He was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference in Singapore, where he was asked if the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where most Rohingya live, could trigger use of the Responsibility to Protect framework of the United Nations.
The so-called R2P framework was adopted at the 2005 U.N. World Summit in which nations agreed to protect their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and accepted a collective responsibility to encourage and help each other uphold this commitment.
“If you can send back 700,000 on a voluntary basis, we are willing to receive them,” Thaung Tun said. “Can this be called ethnic cleansing? “There is no war going on, so it’s not war crimes. Crimes against humanity, that could be a consideration, but we need clear evidence. These serious charges should be proved and they should not be bandied about lightly.”