Asia - Pacific

Official: Rohingya repatriation likely in September

'Genocide' of Rohingya must end before repatriation may begin, says rights group coordinator

SM Najmus Sakib   | 24.07.2019
Official: Rohingya repatriation likely in September Silhouettes of Rohingya refugees are seen at Kutupalong refugee camp in Maynar Guna, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh in April, 2018.

DHAKA, Bangladesh  

The longstanding impasse in repatriating Rohingya Muslims to their homeland in Myanmar may give way in September, according a senior Bangladeshi official said Wednesday.

Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday announced a possible schedule for the repatriation of Rohingya in Dhaka.

"I am expecting that repatriation will start from this September. After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China, things get moving faster," he told reporters at his office, local daily The Financial Express reported.

"I have a gut feeling about it. We are getting positive feedback from all our friendly countries who are engaged in this process," it added.

The minister, who recently concluded his visit to the UN chief and U.S. lawmakers this month, added that Myanmar would not expect global criticism over the issue during the UN General Assembly to be held in September.

The minister urged the international community to increase efforts in Rakhine state, Myanmar so repatriation could be conducted in a safe and conducive manner.

Nay San Lwin, campaign coordinator for the rights group Free Rohingya Coalition, expressed concern at the development.

"The world and the Bangladesh must make sure that the cycle of violence against Rohingyas not repeat again. Rohingyas can live back in their homeland as human beings," he told Anadolu Agency, underlining that the "genocide" of the Muslim group must end before repatriation may begin.

He added that More than a million Myanmar genocide survivors who took refuge in Bangladesh will go back to their homeland if protection, full citizenship, rights to return to their origin villages, rights to livelihood, access to education and access to healthcare are guaranteed.

"The genocide hasn't ended yet. It is ongoing. Until now there is no guarantee for anything," Lwin said.

- A persecuted people

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.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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