Bangladesh gives names to begin Rohingya repatriation

Cheryl Sanders
February 18, 2018

On Thursday, ambassadors from more than 10 countries visited Maungdaw township in Rakhine to tour the Myanmar government's repatriation processing facilities for returning Rohingya refugees, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister entity of BenarNews.

Since taking office, further large waves of desperate Rohingya refugees have been fleeing the predominantly Buddhist country amid reports of state persecution and violence.

Myanmar's Home Minister Kyaw Swe, on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, told Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid that Myanmar was ready to take back Rohingya under a deal the countries signed late a year ago, presidential spokesperson Joynal Abedin said on Friday.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state and crossed into Bangladesh since last August, when attacks on security posts by insurgents triggered a military crackdown that the United Nations has said amounts to ethnic cleansing, with reports of arson attacks, murder and rape.

Around 700,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since late August, when Myanmar's military launched a security crackdown.

The two sides also discussed the fate of some 6,000 Rohingya refugees who have been stranded in no man's land on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border since September.

Many Rohingya have lost their homes to arson attacks in their villages, where witnesses and rights groups say entire Rohingya settlements have been burned to the ground. Kyaw Swe did not speak to the reporters.

He said officials in Myanmar would choose 6500 people next Tuesday to be sent back in the first of three phases, but did not say when the repatriation would start or give any indication of the overall timeframe.

"They want to return, they're not people who want to get refugee status in other countries". Speaking to Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid, he said Myanmar is ready to implement the recommendations of a panel led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan and also accept the refugees.

Khan added that even if the Myanmar government vows its safe to return, their word is not to be trusted.

The crackdown started several weeks after attacks by Rohingya militants on military security posts last summer.

Many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar regard the Rohingya community as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Canada's action comes the same day as a delegation of the European Parliament pushed for an global independent probe of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in the predominately Buddhist country of Myanmar.

Human rights advocates interviewed by BenarNews also criticized the decision to honor the head of the Myanmar military, but asked that they not be identified for fear of being accused of violating Lese-Majeste, Thailand's royal defamation law, which punishes anyone who "defames, insults or threatens" the king and his family with imprisonment of up to 15 years.

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