Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Rohingya exiles fear repatriation in Burma offers only worse squalor

Rohingya exiles fear repatriation in Burma offers only worse squalor

"The Rohingya that I have met in the camp do not want to go back to a situation that will be unsafe to them", USA ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat told reporters after the briefing.

Some refugee leaders said Bangladesh military officials had threatened to seize their food ration cards if they did not return.

On November 23, 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding, which stipulated that the refugee return process should begin within a two-month time.

This was the second time Yanghee Lee visited the refugee camp since August 24 crackdown on Rohingyas a year ago.

The protest came ahead of a visit by United Nations special rapporteur Yanghee Lee to the camps in southeastern Bangladesh where around 1 million of the Muslim minority are now living.

A half-dozen Rohingya elders, saying they represented 40 villages from Rakhine, showed the list of demands to a Reuters reporter at the Kutupalong refugee camp, where most of the 655,500 Rohingya refugees are staying.

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More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims poured into Bangladesh after Burma's military launched a brutal crackdown against them in August.

The refugees refuse to go back unless their safety can be guaranteed and Myanmars grant their demands to be given citizenship and inclusion in a list of recognised ethnic minorities. It asks that land once occupied by the refugees be returned to them and their homes, mosques and schools rebuilt. The community also wants the military to be held accountable for the alleged killing, looting and rape of Rohingyas during the violence that broke out in 2017.

This is why the Rohingya fear moves by Bangladesh and Burma to start returning them this week.

It also wants Myanmar to stop listing people with their photographs as terrorists in state media and on government Facebook pages.

According to the agreement, Myanmar has agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week and return all of them to Myanmar within two years.

But they have been met by angry protest among the Rohingya refugees, with many left traumatised by atrocities including murder, rape and arson attacks on their homes.

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