Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh marked World Refugee Day by participating in protests to demand repatriation and full Burmese citizenship.
“We face hardship living in the camps. We want to be sent back to Burma as soon as possible. Currently, they [Bangladeshi authorities] are not even collecting names of those that want to be repatriated back to Burma. They just want to send the refugees to Bhasan Char Island,” protester Mamat Rawchi, a Rohingya refugee in the Cox’s Bazar Kutupalong refugee camp, told DVB.
Demonstration took place inside a stadium at one of the refugee camps, with over 90,000 Rohingya believed to have participated.
Around 700,000 Rohingya from more than 100 villages near the Burma-Bangladesh border were forced to flee to Bangladesh after the Burma Army’s campaign of genocide began in 2017.
Protesting refugees presented 19 demands; including full citizenship rights, an immediate return to Burma, the repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law, the dismantlement of internment camps in Rakhine, for Rohingya to be allowed to return to their original homes and land, and for the end to the persecution of Rohingya who have remained in Burma.
“We have been waiting for permission to return home for about five years now. If we are allowed to return to Burma, the government needs to provide us with full protection. In addition, our original villages need to be allowed to be rebuilt,” another refugee said.
Bangladeshi authorities have been accused of hindering efforts to repatriate Rohingya back to Burma, whilst the SAC — members of whom had visited northern Rakhine at the end of last year to pledge that refugees would soon be allowed back to the country — have yet to repatriate any Hindu or Muslim Rohingya from the camps in Bangladesh.
Similarly, today thousands of Burmese refugees in the Mae La refugee camp in Tak Province, Thailand, held a demonstration in support of refugee rights to mark World Refugee Day.
The displaced this morning gathered at a football field, holding signs with demands asking for, amongst other things, the freedom to travel outside of the camp.
The displaced held sporting tournaments to mark the occassion.
Thailand alone houses eight temporary camps for Burmese refugees, with Mae La, one of the country’s largest, now being home to tens of thousands of people.
The Burmese military’s bloodthirsty persecution of Burma’s citizens has lasted decades. Last month, the UN OCHA announced that it believed over one million people are now internally displaced, with hundreds of thousands more having fled or found refuge in camps abroad.