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Rohingya return to Myanmar puts them at 'grave risk'

UK parliament committee report says repatriation for displaced Rohingya is underway without involvement of community

Rohingya return to Myanmar puts them at 'grave risk' FILE PHOTO - Rohingya refugees walk to take shelter in the southern part of Bangladesh at Palongkhali in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on November 02, 2017. A large number of Rohingya Muslims fled from violence Buthidaung town in Myanmar, walked for seven days and crossed the border. ( Masfiqur Sohan - Anadolu Agency )

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal


There is a “grave risk” in plans for repatriation for Rohingya refugees to Myanmar without the understanding of their legal status, destination and willingness to return, a parliament committee report said.

The report by a select committee said the “plans to begin repatriation for the displaced Rohingya people from Bangladesh to Burma are well underway without evidence of consultation or involvement with the community.

“There are talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar about people being returned to the very country which they fled. A lot needs to be done," the committee chair, Stephen Twigg, said.

Speaking to SkyNews, Twigg said: “We need massive reassurances before there can be any suggestion of refugees returning and any return must be genuinely voluntary.”

The report titled "Bangladesh and Burma: the Rohingya crisis" published on Monday suggested that “continuing engagement” with Myanmar “seems to have been interpreted as tacit acceptance of the treatment of the Rohingya”.

“The required conditions for the safe return of the Rohingya must include … access to fundamental human rights,” it said.

“Previous episodes of displacement and return of the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, over the last 20 years do not inspire confidence,” it added.

“It is unacceptable to propose that the Rohingya be returned to live in Burmese-run internment camps; inevitably to be faced with further privations, potential abuses and uncertain access for outside agencies; and likely only to be displaced once again if there is further violence.”

The all-party international development select committee also urged British ministers to “reflect on why so much evidence of discrimination, marginalisation, and abuse of the Rohingya people in Myanmar was seemingly ignored for so long, rather than translated into effective action by the international community”.

The committee also accused the British government of being reluctant to commit its specialist team on sexual violence to assist with reported cases of gender-based violence.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 650,000 refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN. At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In a report published on Dec. 12, the global humanitarian organization said that the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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