FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, Tom Andrews called on Bangladesh to immediately suspend a pilot project to repatriate Rohingya. Bangladesh has agreed to send 1,140 Rohingya back to Burma in a plan supported by Naypyidaw. Andrews said that Rohingya would not have freedom of movement in 15 newly-constructed villages, where they will be relocated after arriving at “transit” camps in Rakhine State. “The return of Rohingya refugees under these conditions would likely violate Bangladesh’s obligations under international law and expose Rohingya to gross human rights violations and, potentially, future atrocity crimes,” he added.
Andrews’ calls came the same day as tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh staged a demonstration to demand immediate repatriation to Burma. One protester held a sign that said: “No more refugee life. No verification. No scrutiny. No interview. We want quick repatriation through UNHCR data card [sic]. We want to go back to our motherland.” Many Rohingya have said that they will only agree to return to Burma if citizenship is guaranteed. “We are the citizens of Myanmar by birth. We want to go back home with all our rights, including citizenship, free movement, livelihood, safety, and security,” Rohingya community leader Mohammed Jashim told Reuters.
Rohingya living in Bangladesh refugee camps are facing precarious conditions. Criminal activity is now rampant and support from the international community is dwindling. Sporadic clashes between armed groups, claiming to represent the Rohingya, and Bangladesh security forces have occurred. Many Rohingya have opted to flee the squalid conditions of camps in Bangladesh by boat. The U.N. states that at least 348 Rohingya died at sea in 2022. Over 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017 after a Burma Army operation in northern Rakhine State labeled as genocide by the U.S. government. In 2019, The Gambia opened its Rohingya genocide case against Burma at the International Court of Justice. In 2021, a court in Argentina opened an investigation of crimes committed against the Rohingya under its universal jurisdiction law. It is hearing testimony from Rohingya complainants this month in the capital, Buenos Aires.