Burma Times Correspondent: June 22, 2015
The government is willing to return the captured Bangladesh soldier if they also take back around six hundred migrants from the second rescued ship.
On May 29, Burmese navy intercepted a ship with 727 migrants from the coastline in the Irrawaddy region. They are currently imprisoned in Taimbru near the Bangladesh border.
As the migrant crisis drew international criticism of Burma over its ethnic cleansing in Arakan state, the government reacted saying that the boat people were Bangladeshis, not Muslims from their country. A government spokesman went as far as to claim that South East Asian nations were fooled by Bangladeshis claiming to be Arakanese Muslims for refugee status.
The government tried to establish the truth of their claims by showing the world that all migrants rescued off the coast of their country are Bangladeshis.
When the first ship was rescued by the navy, all the people identified as Rohingyas by the authorities were whisked away before the media arrived. The initiative backfired when the affair became known.
So there was always hesitation on how to display the identity of the migrants on the second rescued ship. The government declared after some hesitation that most on board were Bangladeshis.
Independent sources say that many of the migrants were communicating with the authorities in the Rakhine dialect, a language not spoken by Bangladeshis.
In a desperate attempt to push their case, the government now wants Bangladesh to identify around six hundred of the migrants as their nationals and take them back. In return, Burma will hand over a soldier captured in the Naaf river last Wednesday. The offers have been made through the back channels used by diplomats and security officials of both countries.