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(Bangkok)- Bangladesh And Myanmar Human Rights Watch said today that organizations are organizing the return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar’s Rakhine state without consulting the community or addressing the serious risks to their lives and freedoms.

On May 5, 2023, Bangladesh authorities, along with Myanmar’s junta officials, took 20 Rohingya refugees will visit resettlement camps as part of Rakhine State renewed effort About 1,100 Rohingya are to be brought back under a pilot project. Donor governments and UN experts should call on any Rohingya repatriation to be halted until conditions are in place for a safe and sustainable return.

“Bangladesh authorities must not forget the reasons why Rohingya became refugees, and must accept that none of these factors have changed,” said shayna bouchner, Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Bangladesh is frustrated by its burden as host, but sending refugees back under the control of a brutal Myanmar junta will set the stage for the next disastrous exodus.”

About 600,000 Rohingya live in Rakhine state, confined to unsanitary camps and villages, making them exceptionally vulnerable to extreme weather events such as Cyclone Mocha, compounded by the junta’s severe restrictions on humanitarian aid.

Human Rights Watch spoke to five Rohingya refugees who were part of the Go-and-See journey. He said the detention-like conditions and lack of full citizenship rights were not conducive to a safe return. The Rohingya said, “We are not at all satisfied with the situation in Rakhine.” Refugees Said. “This is another trap by Myanmar to take us back and then continue the same abuse they have been doing to us for decades.”

Rohingya refugees have consistently said they want to go home, but only when their safety, access to land and livelihood, freedom of movement and citizenship rights can be ensured.

The Rohingya delegation visited Hla Po Kaung Transit Camp and Kyen Chaung Relocation Camp in Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State. The camps were built by the Myanmar authorities. Rohingya on land that myanmar security forces lit and bulldozed in 2017 and 2018. The transit camp is surrounded by barbed wire fences and security checkpoints, as are Rohingya detention camps in Sittwe and other townships in central Rakhine state.

One Rohingya refugee said of the visit, “I could see my village.” “The land at Hla Po Kaung Transit Camp used to be my home. My house was destroyed, my school is now a health center. There used to be three entire Rohingya villages where the transit camp is now. The Myanmar authorities are trying to imprison us in camps like Sittwe.”

Myanmar officials have held About 140,000 Rohingya have been arbitrarily and indefinitely held in camps for more than 10 years. recent measures The closure of the camps appears to be clearly designed to perpetuate the isolation and imprisonment of the Rohingya. camps in which chronic wear and tear Due to the sanctions of the Myanmar authorities, there were severely damaged on 14 May by Cyclone Mocha.

A Rohingya refugee said, “We asked the Myanmar authorities why our villages were turned into displacement camps.” “They said they had no other option. They didn’t answer our questions whether we would ever be given our land back. If these camps are temporary, why can’t the Rohingya living in the central camps in Rakhine go back to their native villages? Are you able to return?

Conditions in Rakhine State have not been conducive to the voluntary, safe or dignified return of Rohingya refugees since 2017, when more than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s military. crimes against humanity and acts of genocide. The prospect of a safe return has waned since the February 2021 military coup in Myanmar, carried out by the same generals who carried out the mass atrocities of 2017.

Myanmar junta officials provided Rohingya arriving in April 2023 with a booklet titled “Facts on the Myanmar Government’s Arrangements for the Reception and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons Under the Pilot Project”. The booklet is written in Burmese, English and English. Bangla, says the returnees will be held at Hla Po Kang transit camp for two months, then transferred to one of two resettlement camps with prefabricated houses or a plot of land in one of 15 “designated villages” Will be given where they can build one. home through cash-for-work programs.

The handbook states that security personnel will be deployed “to ensure law and order in areas where the returnees reside or pass through.” Myanmar authorities have long invoked “security concerns” as justification for violating the rights of Rohingya to travel outside their camps and villages in Rakhine state.

The junta claimed in the pamphlet that the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would be involved in the pilot project. UNHCR Said A recent statement said that “visits are an important part of voluntary refugee return, providing people with a chance to observe conditions in their home country prior to return and to contribute to making an informed decision on return.” However, the agency reported in march that it is not involved in pilot repatriation discussions and that “the conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are currently not conducive to the permanent return of Rohingya refugees.”

The junta’s systematic abuses against the Rohingya amount to a crime against humanity apartheid, oppression and deprivation of liberty, Since the 2021 coup, security forces have arrested thousands of Rohingya men, women and children for “unauthorized travel”. imposed by the public New movement restrictions and aid blockages Water shortages and food shortages are looming large over Rohingya camps and villages.

A major concern among Rohingya on the journey was the reference to the booklet of the National Verification Card (NVC), the document which does not confer Myanmar citizenship. The Rohingya have widely rejected the NVC process, seeing it as marking them as foreigners in their own country. NVC-holders have been denied meaningful freedom of movement, while intimidation and coercion have been hallmarks of the process to force the Rohingya to accept the card.

A visiting Rohingya refugee said, “Why do we have to apply for NVC when we were born there and have proof that we are from Myanmar.” “Rohingyas who have NVC are still not given freedom like other ethnicities. They are associating every right like freedom of movement, access to livelihood, education, health care with accepting NVC. But this will make us strangers in our own country. They should give us full citizenship and accept us as Rohingyas.”

The Rohingya are effectively denied citizenship under Myanmar’s 1982 citizenship law, rendering them stateless.

In March, a delegation of Myanmar junta officials Visited Cox’s Bazar Camps In Bangladesh, which is home to nearly one million Rohingya refugees, to “pilot repatriation” process to interview Rohingya for “verification”. Rohingya told Human Rights Watch that they were tricked or coerced by Bangladeshi administrators into meeting with the delegation. Another visit of junta officials, reportedly for mid-May, was postponed due to Cyclone Mocha.

in April, China Holds tripartite talks with Bangladesh government and Myanmar junta officials in Kunming resume recursion before the monsoon season.

Some refugees said that Bangladeshi officials forced them to join the visit and asked them to speak positively to the media about conditions in Rakhine state. Bangladesh intelligence officers have harassed at least two refugees who publicly criticized the Maungdaw camps. Security forces have increased surveillance of Rohingya on the pilot repatriation list, with officials informing them to prepare for return.

Bangladesh Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Mizanur Rahman in Cox’s Bazar, Said BananaNews that they plan to begin repatriations in May, but will not force any refugees to return.

There have also been officers of the junta Rakhine State Visit in preparation for their submission to the International Court of Justice the case for the genocide convention brought by GambiaInitially due on 24 April. In March, the junta requested The 10-month extension was granted, claiming, among other reasons, that “more time is needed to take statements from witnesses who were currently living in camps in Bangladesh or would soon be returned to Myanmar.” The court extended the deadline by only a month to May 24. Human Rights Watch said the timing of the pilot repatriation project appears to be part of a wider effort by the junta to pretend progress in the treatment of the Rohingya in court.

Since 2017, the Government of Bangladesh has respected the international principle of non-refoulement, the right of refugees not to be returned to a country where their life or liberty is at risk. but Bangladesh officials also have Intensifying Sanctions Creating a coercive atmosphere designed to force people to consider premature returns, on livelihoods, movement and education.

“Bangladesh should stick to its policy of not forcing Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar under the current circumstances,” Bouchner said. “Donor governments should help alleviate this difficult situation by supporting Bangladesh to create opportunities for the Rohingya to learn and work so that they are better prepared to go home when that day comes.”

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