Rohingya in B’desh protest ‘rushed’ repatriation plan
Dhaka, November 15
Hundreds of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh, worried about their safety, on Thursday protested against “rushed” repatriation to Myanmar after Dhaka said it is fully prepared for the plan, opposed by the UN and aid agencies. More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August last year after a brutal military crackdown was launched, dubbed by the UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” by international rights watchdogs, sparking a global uproar.
Four trucks and three buses have been stationed at Unchiprang camp in Cox’s Bazar since Thursday morning, ready to carry refugees who have been “approved” to a transit camp by the border – but not one refugee has been willing to board them, officials said.
Several thousand Rohingya instead staged protests declining to go back to Myanmar as Bangladesh began preparations to repatriate an initial batch of 2,000 Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, in line with a plan agreed with Myanmar in October.
“The buses were ready and we readied three days of rations for those who were set to return, in the first batch but none boarded on the buses,” an official of the relief commissioner’s office at the scene said.
Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam earlier said none of the 50 families spoken to so far “expressed their willingness to go back under the present circumstances” and “We cannot force them to go back against their will.”