#AceNewsReport – Feb.03: Editor says as Myanmar citizens have ‘Military Rule’ imposed on them today thousands of Rohingya refugees staged angry protests for “justice” one Saturday in 2018 on the first anniversary of a Myanmar military crackdown that sparked a mass exodus to camps in Bangladesh: Many wept as they recalled the brutal killings and rapes inflicted on the Muslim minority last year as 700,000 fled across the border #AceNewsDesk reports
(BANGLADESH) #Rohingya three years on from that flight to safety then living in ‘ Cox’s Bazaar ‘ many of the ‘ Stateless Families ‘ still look forward to returning to #Myanmar and their homes as some protest and others pray over their plight with thoughts of repatriation in their minds: Heres some of their 💔stories #AceNewsDesk reports
The biggest refugee camp in the world is rigidly controlled by Bangladesh authorities and the peaceful but charged Rohingya marches and rallies seen there were unprecedented.
“We are Rohingya, we want justice,” people chanted in the Kutupalong camp, where a giant banner proclaimed: “Never Again: Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day. 25 August, 2018.”
In a different part of the camp, thousands of women and children marched behind a huge poster declaring: “365 days of crying. Now I am angry.”
Rohingya militants staged attacks on Myanmar police posts on August 25 last year, sparking a bloody crackdown in Rakhine state.
The Myanmar military crackdown forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh
Nearly 7,000 Rohingya were killed in the first month, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).
Refugees arrived in Bangladesh on foot or in flimsy boats. Many brought horrific stories of sexual violence, torture and villages burned to the ground.
Columns of people marching through the camp on Saturday waved banners and chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great).
Tears flowed as one Imam gave a sermon, saying “Please Allah, return to us our homeland. Let us see our parents’ graves. We left them back in Myanmar.”
Myanmar authorities, who insist their forces only targeted insurgents, have made an agreement with Bangladesh to repatriate refugees but only a handful have gone back.
Rohingya leaders say the exiles will not return home unless their safety is guaranteed.
- No home, no hope –
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week said it was up to Bangladesh “to decide how quickly” repatriation of the refugees can be accomplished.
She said the “terrorist threat” posed by Rohingya militants remains “real and present”.
Refugees arrived in Bangladesh on foot or in flimsy boats
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which has been blamed for attacks in Myanmar, issued an anniversary statement in which it condemned Myanmar’s “terrorist government and genocidal military”.
Mohammad Hossain, a 40-year-old protester at Kutupalong, said: “We are here remember to August 25. We want justice.
“We want them (Myanmar) to recognise us as Rohingya. We are very sad because we are not in our native land.”
The Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship decades ago by Myanmar and have been chased from the country in successive convulsions of violence.
About 300,000 were already in the camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district and the latest arrivals pushed numbers to one million.
The Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship decades ago by Myanmar
The Rohingya and aid agencies are most worried about the uncertain future of the refugees, who are stateless and seemingly unwanted in Bangladesh while conditions in their Rakhine homeland remain dangerous.
International Red Cross Committee president Peter Maurer, who visited the camps and Rakhine in July, said in an anniversary statement that Rohingya in both places were “living in misery”.
“Unfortunately, since my visit we have not seen tangible improvements for those displaced or the few who remain in Rakhine.”
The Red Cross chief called for urgent “sustainable solutions” for “safe, dignified and voluntary returns as soon as possible.”
He said this must include “political steps” in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
While the Rohingya exodus from western Myanmar continues, with refugees still trickling over the border, the United Nations and international rights groups say conditions are not ready for their return.
Aid agencies fear it will be years before they are allowed to return to Rakhine state
“It may be decades until they can safely return to Myanmar, if ever,” said MSF head of mission in Bangladesh Pavlo Kolovos in a statement.
Calls have mounted for Myanmar’s military to be held responsible for the campaign and the United States has sanctioned two army brigades and several commanders who oversaw the expulsion.
There have also been calls for an International Criminal Court inquiry but Myanmar has bristled at international criticism.
Humanitarian agencies spearheading the relief effort in Bangladesh say just one-third of the roughly $1 billion needed for the refugees until March has been raised.
Al Jazeera visited and one year on, do they want to return to Myanmar? We speak to Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar about their thoughts on repatriation https://t.co/AsqHV2In8H https://t.co/ZHIY9pSmfy August 24, 2018 at 10:02PM: Linah Alsaafin
According to ISCG, 919,000 refugees have been displaced from their villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine state [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
It has been one year since hundreds of thousands of the Rohingya population streamed into Bangladesh, as a result of a brutal crackdown carried out by the Myanmar army that the UN had described as “textbook ethnic cleansing“.
The latest assault took place after a coordinated attack by rebel group Arkan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on a police post and army base killed 12 security personnel.
For many of the Rohingya who are not recognised by Myanmar as an ethnic group and are denied citizenship and government services, this was not the first time they had forcibly left their homes.
Previous waves of displacement took place in 1978, 1991, and 2016.
According to the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), over the past year there has been an influx of 919,000 refugees who have been displaced from their villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
They live in 32 camps in the Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts, or upazilas, of the tourist beach town Cox’s Bazar, joining the 300,000 other Rohingya who were displaced in previous years.
The camps suffer from overcrowding and squalid conditions, with sanitation problems and lack of basic infrastructure.
About 200,000 Rohingya are at risk of landslides during the monsoon season, as the tarpaulin and bamboo shelters are built haphazardly on soft ground.
Last November, the Bangladeshi and Myanmar governments signed a repatriation deal where they agreed that the Rohingya that fled across the border would be returned to Rakhine state.
However, little is known about what the deal holds, and there has not been a single return yet.
Many of the Rohingya cite their fears of returning only to be forcibly displaced again in the future.
For this reason, they say they will not return unless their demands are met, such as for Myanmar to grant them citizenship, greater inclusivity in government services such as education and workforce, the ensuring of security and safety, and reparations for all that they have lost.
Al Jazeera spoke with refugees living in various camps in Cox’s Bazar about whether they would return to their homelands and their thoughts on the repatriation deal.Ali Johar, 25
Ali Johar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Ali is from Taung Bazar village in the Buthidaung Township, where he used to be a local trader in food items.
He arrived in Jamtoli refugee camp last August with his wife, son and sister.
“I didn’t know there was a repatriation deal. But I won’t go back unless certain demands are met, such as granting the Rohingya people citizenship, for Myanmar to ensure greater security for us, and to give us compensation for all that we’ve lost.”Gulsahar, 50
Gulsahar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Gulsahar is from Taung Bazar and now lives in the Jamtoli refugee camp with her husband, Mohammad Shafi and her five children.
“I lost my sister and my nieces and nephews. They were killed by the Myanmar soldiers. I have made up my mind to stay here in Jamtoli until I die. Here, I receive help from the aid agencies. But even if the government of Bangladesh cuts off the aid, I would rather die from starvation than return to Rakhine.
“I have three daughters and two sons. My eldest daughter is 20, and she is still unmarried. We are searching for a bridegroom.”
[Rohingya women tend to marry in their early teens because they fear getting raped by Myanmar soldiers, she said, adding that if the women are married, the soldiers lose interest]Mahmud Yunis, 35
Mahmud Yunis [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Mahmud is from the Raballah village in Maungdaw Township. He is the eldest of seven siblings. He and his unmarried brothers live with their mother in Nayapara – Shalbagan refugee camp in Teknaf.
“I have no demands. I want to go back to my village without any compensation or conditions. I used to be a porter. Now I do nothing.
“Every day I face many difficulties just to get food. I am dependent on aid. There are also hygiene problems, such as the lack of sanitary latrines. I don’t know much about the repatriation deal.”Mir Ahmad, 60
Mir Ahmad [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Mir is from Fukira Bazar in Maungdaw Township, where he was a farmer and owned 10 kani (1.6 hectares) of land. He now lives in Balukhali camp.
“I am married with two sons and one daughter. I am willing to go back to Rakhine if the Myanmar government meets our demands, such as compensation and recognising us as citizens.”
“Here I can get food and shelter. I feel better here than in my own village because there’s more security. But I want to return to Fukira Bazar because there, I can live in dignity.”Hujjatul Islam, 12
Hujjatul Islam [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Hujjatul is from a village in Maungdaw Township, and now lives with his parents, two brothers and two sisters in Kutupalong camp, in the unregistered bloc 11.
“I was in Year Three in school when I was in Rakhine. Now I can’t find a proper school here except for the madrasahs where we learn the Quran. I haven’t heard of any repatriation deal.”
“I’ll go back if we have Rohingya recognition. We would much rather die here if Myanmar forces us to go back without granting us citizenship.”Dildar Begam, 35
Dildar Begam [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
She is from Bolibazar village in Maungdaw Township and now lives in the Kutupalong camp.
“I have nine children and a husband. It took us two days to reach Cox’s Bazar. I saw so many massacres, rapes, and homes set on fire.
“I haven’t heard of the repatriation deal. I would only go back if Myanmar granted us Rohingya recognition. I don’t feel good here because this is not my land.
I am grateful for the role of the Bangladeshi government and the aid agencies for helping us, but I want to live in dignity back in my own land.”Nural Amin, 59 and Sayad Ahmad, 55
Nural Amin (L), 59 and Sayad Ahmad (R), 55[Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
They are cousins from the Maungdaw Township. Amin has 10 kids and Ahmad has eight kids.
Nural Amin: “We haven’t heard of a repatriation deal. If the governments of both countries decide to physically return us to Rakhine, we have conditions that must be met first, like the Rohingya recognition and compensation.”
“I hope we won’t be forced to go back without any guarantees. We would prefer to die here in a Muslim country and not among Buddhists.”
“This is our third time being displaced. The first was in 1978 and the second time in 1991. Every time we returned to Rakhine we faced torture and government repression.”
“We were fishermen and farmers in Myanmar. Even though Myanmar is our country, there is no way we would go back there again without security or conditions. Bangladesh is more peaceful.”
Sources: Mail Online – Al Jazeera
#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Feb.03: 2021: