Monday, 7 July 2008

Bangladesh Proposes Repatriation of 133 Burmese Prisoners

Dhaka: The Bangladesh foreign ministry recently sent a letter to its Burmese counterpart asking Burma to receive 133 Burmese prisoners that are currently languishing in several prisons in Bangladesh, said a local office report.

The report said that the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already sent a letter to the Burmese military government about taking back their citizens, but the Burmese authorities have yet to agree to the request.

An official source said that a total of 133 Burmese citizens, including one woman, have been languishing in different jails in Bangladesh for the last 10 to 12 years.

These prisoners have been waiting in the jails after serving out their sentences. Of the total prisoners, 97 are in Cox's Bazar District jail, 21 are in the Dhaka Central Jail, three are in the Chittagong jail, nine are in the Bandarban District jail, and three are at the Rangamati District jail.

The report said many of the detainees awaiting their release are Burmese Muslims and Buddhists, members of the Rakhine community in Burma.

Bangladesh jail authorities have written a number of letters to the ministries of foreign and home affairs requesting a process for the return of these Burmese citizens over the last decade.

Md. Alamgir, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also wrote a letter to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs on 12 June (2008) calling for a prompt solution to the problems of the Burmese citizens in detention.

According to Md. Helal Uddin, Superintendent of the Cox's Bazar jail, all 133 prisoners have been passing their days and nights in different jails of Bangladesh after completing their punishments.

Sources have also provided information that many had completed their sentences 10 to 12 years ago, but they are still living in the jails. The Bangladesh Jail Directorate does not have additional funds budgeted for the Burmese citizens.

It has also been learned that some prisoners were acquitted of their charges in 1996, and some in 1998, but they have been unable to return to the homeland because the Burmese military authority is not interested in receiving its own citizens and has not cooperated on their repatriation.

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