Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Rohingya refugees flee camps to avoid repatriation

Rohingya refugees flee camps to avoid repatriation

"I will not go". In September, Aung San Suu Kyi defended their arrests, saying they had broken the law and their case has "nothing to do with freedom of expression at all".

Elections will be held in Bangladesh on December 30 and the question of how to handle the refugee crisis is bound to become one of the most important issues that any future government of Bangladesh would have to tackle.

"Hunger, no healthcare, innocents [being arrested], extortion, no free movement, no access to work, to go anywhere, no justice", he said, summing up the situation faced by villagers in the locked-down northwest. "We have our land, we have our homes", he said.

"These women, men and children would be sent back into the Myanmar military's grasp with no protection guarantees, to live alongside those who torched their homes and whose bullets they fled".

Some 2,260 Rohingya Muslims had been scheduled to leave the Bangladesh border post in the southeastern Cox's Bazar district in the first repatriations from Thursday under the voluntary scheme. Hence, with all major Asia-Pacific nations being in attendance; and with Myanmar having extremely cordial relations with China, India, and Japan respectively; then it was a great opportunity to remind nations about the abundant opportunities that await.

Despite the promises by Myanmar, human rights activists say conditions are not yet safe for their return.

Citing a senior official at the commission, BBC Bangla said the 150 Rohingyas on the list of the first batch for repatriation do not want to return to Myanmar.

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"I did mention about the situation in Rakhine State".

Amnesty International this week withdrew its most prestigious human rights prize from Ms Suu Kyi, accusing her of perpetuating human rights abuses by not speaking out about violence against the Rohingya. "Returning refugees to a place where their rights will be routinely violated and where their lives will be at constant risk is unacceptable - and unconscionable", Nicholas Bequelin said. "Nobody can claim today that the security in Rakhine is so well established that people can return safely".

The United Nations warned of "terror and panic" among Muslim Rohingya refugees facing repatriation to Burma, as the country's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, faced blunt criticism from world leaders at an global summit meeting.

They joined some 300,000 Rohingya already living in squalid camps in Bangladesh's southeast for years, having fled previous waves of violence in Rakhine state. UN-mandated investigators have accused the Myanmar army of "genocidal intent" and ethnic cleansing. Myanmar's government has denied the accusations.

But there is widespread skepticism that any of returning refugees will ever be granted citizenship.

ASEAN's Muslim-majority members - Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei - tend to take the toughest line on the Rohingya question, while Myanmar has close regional allies in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

"Bangladesh has generously welcomed Rohingya people and given them refuge". Almost all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless.

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