'The return of one family is not Rohingya repatriation'

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Photos posted alongside the statement showed one man, two women, a young girl and a boy receiving the ID cards and getting health checks. After months of delays, five members of a Rohingya family on Thursday went back to Rakhine. The Rohingya family had been living in a camp erected on a patch there [between the two countries].

The UN says the campaign amounts to ethnic cleansing, but Myanmar has denied the charge, saying its troops targeted Rohingya militants.

The website claimed after conducting its own investigation that family entered the border area, where the refugees are camped out, to try "persuade" other Rohingya families to return to Myanmar.

The confirmation comes despite United Nations warnings that it was not yet safe for families to return.

A boat carrying 70 Rohingya Muslims set out for Malaysia from Myanmar this week, two sources and a rights group said, the latest to embark on a unsafe sea journey.


Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) criticised the repatriation announcement as "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine state". Many refuse to return without a guarantee of basic rights and citizenship.

Many Rohingya refugees say they fear returning to a country where they saw their relatives murdered by soldiers and where Buddhist vigilantes drove them from their homes.

Ursula Mueller, the a United Nations senior humanitarian official, warned last week that there "critical issues of freedom of movement" that Myanmar's government needs to address before beginning repatriation, AFP reported.

"Right now, the conditions are not conducive to a voluntary, dignified and sustainable return", Ursula Mueller, assistant secretary general for the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told AFP earlier this month after a visit to Rakhine.

"Refugee return also can not be divorced from the question of impunity for the crimes that caused the refugees to flee", he said.


The Rohingya are reviled by many in the Buddhist-majority country, where they are branded as illegal "Bengali" immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their long roots in Rakhine state. As of April 1, only 600 individuals have been verified by Myanmar, according to HRW.

Seventy people were on the boat, both the sources said.

Around 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 due to military operations in the Rakhine State against the minority Rohingya Muslim community.

The Rohingya are viewed as one of the most persecuted communities in the world.


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