Monday, 21 January, 2019

Rohingya leaders make a list of demands before repatriation process begins

Rohingya want life guarantees before repatriation from Bangladesh Rohingya leaders make a list of demands before repatriation process begins
Melinda Barton | 21 January, 2018, 02:10

Rohingya leaders in a Bangladesh refugee camp have drawn up a list of demands they want Myanmar to meet before authorities begin sending back hundreds of thousands in the repatriation process, according to Reuters. The repatriation process would start next Tuesday, the statements said. Not only should the preparatory work be completed quickly, the rate of repatriation per diem must be enhanced so that that the repatriation can be completed sooner than the two years that the agreement stipulates.

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

The petition, handwritten in Burmese, said none of the Rohingya would return to mainly Buddhist Myanmar unless the demands were met.

Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar, on Saturday visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Teknaf to speak to the refugees.

The military denies ethnic cleansing, saying its security forces mounted legitimate counter-insurgency clearance operations.

The petition, which has still to be finalized, demanded the Myanmar government publicly announce it is giving Rohingya long-denied citizenship and inclusion on a list of the country's recognized ethnic groups. They are widely seen as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

A Rohingya boy holds his sibling as they sit on the side of a dirt road in the refugee camp Monday.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have reached a deal on the return of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas that sidelined the United Nations refugee agency. We want fundamental rights and citizenship.

A statement issued on Thursday by almost two dozen Rohingya organisations around the world demanded security guarantees for the refugees and their property before they return.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed earlier this week to complete the refugees' return process within two years.

"We expect constructive cooperation between Naypyidaw and Dhaka to continue in order to resolve the remaining issues, as we also expect other interested countries to facilitate this process based on respect for national sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs, which is what Russian Federation has been calling for", the statement says.

And these also bring to the fore the need to put into effect the agreement in principle to the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. Thus there is need for continued pressure on Myanmar so that the repatriation can be sustainable.

State-run media in Myanmar reported Monday that a camp is being prepared that can accommodate about 30,000 people in 625 buildings, and that at least 100 buildings will be completed by the end of the month.

"Major challenges have to be overcome", UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told a news briefing in Geneva.

Mohammad Farouk, 20, who arrived in Bangladesh following the August 25 attacks, said exchanging one camp for another made little difference - except "the camps in Myanmar will be far worse, because we will be confined there and there will be a risk to our lives". Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters in an email authorities can not deal with the Rohingya refugees "as if they are an inert mass of people who will go where and when they are told".