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Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh want to go home

Stalled repatriation is causing frustration among the one million refugees and the host community, activist says
Rohingya refugees enter Bangladesh through Shah Porir Dwip area of Cox's Bazar following the military crackdown in Rakhine state of Myanmar in 2017

Rohingya refugees enter Bangladesh through Shah Porir Dwip area of Cox's Bazar following the military crackdown in Rakhine state of Myanmar in 2017. (Photo: Piyas Biswas/UCA News)

Published: August 27, 2022 04:30 AM GMT
Updated: August 27, 2022 04:38 AM GMT

Thousands of Rohingya refugees rallied in Bangladeshi camps and chanted slogans with placards to demand repatriation to their homeland in Myanmar as they marked the fifth anniversary of a deadly military crackdown.

"We marked the 5th Genocide Remembrance Day today [Aug. 25]. On this day Myanmar military carried out genocide against us – our Rohingya brothers and sisters. We don't want to remain as refugees, we want to return to our Golden Arakan, our motherland,” Mohammad Jobair, the secretary general of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Humanity (ARSPH), told UCA News.

The organization led rallies in the camps of Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh which houses nearly one million Rohingya Muslims, the majority of whom fled the 2017 military atrocities in Myanmar, which was dubbed “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations. The United States recognized the brutalities as a “genocide.”

Rohingyas held placards with the slogan: “Hope is Home.”

Jobair said Rohingya refugees “urge the international community to put more pressure on the Myanmar government so that sustainable repatriation begins quickly."

Noor Hossain, a Rohingya Maulvi (religious teacher), delivered a speech during one of the rallies where he recalled how the Myanmar military persecuted Rohingya, destroyed their villages, and forced them to flee to Bangladesh.

He also demanded justice for the brutal assassination of Rohingya rights activist Muhib Ullah last year. Ullah was a former teacher who went on to become the chairman of ARSPH and the most popular community leader.

The military crackdown in response to attacks on security forces by the shadowy insurgent outfit, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), triggered the exodus of more than 750,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh. The escapees joined another 250,000 Rohingya already in Bangladesh who fled earlier bouts of persecution.

The ARSPH estimates that 1.2 million Rohingya are living in Bangladesh as refugees including 30,000 in Bhasan Char, a coastal island in the Bay of Bengal.

Hamida Begum, 23, a Rohingya mother of one, is an employee of a charity group in the Balukhali refugee camp. She says Rohingya repatriation will not materialize without the strong and direct intervention of the United Nations.

“Five years is not a short time. The Myanmar government does not care whether we arrange rallies here or make demands. We demand United Nations interventions. We have seen the UN has established peace in various countries. Sadly, no such action has been visible for our peaceful repatriation,” Begum told UCA News.

Bangladesh signed an agreement with Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation in November 2017, three months after the crackdown on Rohingya.

Two attempts for repatriation of Rohingya in 2018 and 2019 failed as the refugees refused to go home without a ‘conducive environment’ and concrete promises from the Myanmar government for their citizenship and recognition of their freedom of movement, access to education, healthcare, and employment.

Abu Murshed Chowdhury, co-chairman of the Network of Development Organizations in Cox's Bazar noted that uncertainty over repatriation is creating frustration among Rohingya and the host community

“Emphasis should be placed on formal diplomacy as well as informal diplomacy or track two diplomacy to ensure repatriation,” Chowdhury told UCA News, adding the unresolved Rohingya crisis poses threat to the stability of the region.

Earlier this week, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said that the under-resourced nation cannot be frustrated due to the non-repatriation of Rohingya.  

 “Everything will end here if we become frustrated, work must continue," Momen said on Aug. 21.

“We are continuing to negotiate with Myanmar. I want to start the repatriation of Rohingyas on a small scale this year.”

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1 Comments on this Story
PAUL ADEM CARROLL
This is written in a misleading way that reflects Bangladesh government talking points. Yes, Rohingya want to go home, but with rights as well as safety. The problem is that much more clear emphasis needs to be placed on the Burmese military's refusal to acknowledge the rights of the Rohingya minority, and its destruction of 350 Rohingya villages. Where are the refugees going to be repatriated to, a wasteland of flattened villages now owned by the cronies of the military junta? UCA should pay more attention when reporting on genocide.
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