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‘Idea of repatriation now is a farce’: Fortify Rights
BdChronicle Special Feature:
Bangladesh and Myanmar should ensure the repatriation of Rohingyas takes place through a voluntary, safe, and dignified process and only when Myanmar authorities have restored the rights of Rohingya, said Fortify Rights on Monday.
A new film released on Monday by Fortify Rights focuses on the plan to repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar.
“You can throw us into the sea, but please don’t send us back,” said a Rohingya refugee woman in Bangladesh who fled recent Myanmar military-led atrocities in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township. “We will not go back to Myanmar.”
A Rohingya refugee girl, 16, also from Buthidaung Township, waited in desperation on the banks of the Naf River for one month before she and her family were able to cross to Bangladesh on November 11, 2017. “If we were willing to go back to Myanmar,” she told Fortify Rights, “we would not have stayed at the border for one month.”
The new film, entitled “No Man’s Land,” is based on interviews with dozens of newly arrived Rohingya refugees and others in Bangladesh, including a Rohingya boat owner who makes a living transporting refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh, and an ethnic-Rakhine Buddhist monk in Bangladesh who preaches inter-ethnic peace.
In November, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar announced a plan to repatriate Rohingya back to Myanmar, later clarifying it would take place during the next two years.
None of the recently arrived Rohingya in Bangladesh told Fortify Rights they were interested to return to Myanmar under the current conditions.
In November, Fortify Rights and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum published the findings of a yearlong investigation into alleged violations in Rakhine State, finding “mounting evidence” of the crime of genocide.
The report was based on hundreds of interviews with Rohingya eyewitnesses and survivors of Myanmar Army-led massacres, mass gang-rapes, and arson attacks against Rohingya.
“Any repatriation now would be premature and dangerous,” said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Fortify Rights. “Repatriation should be safe, truly voluntary, and dignified, but the current situation fails to come close to this standard.”
In Myanmar, the Government continues to confine more than 120,000 internally displaced Rohingya to more than 35 internment camps in eight townships of Rakhine State, depriving many of adequate humanitarian aid and lifesaving assistance.
Rohingya throughout the country are also denied equal access to citizenship and face restrictions on their right to freedom of movement and other basic rights.
“There are no indications that Myanmar authorities plan to dismantle existing internment camps, lift restrictions on movement and aid, or provide much-needed protection,” said Matthew Smith. “The very idea of repatriations now is a farce. There must be genuine changes for Rohingya in Myanmar before there can be any serious discussions of repatriation.”