DHAKA has slammed Burma (Myanmar) over the Buddhist-majority country’s claim it had repatriated a Rohingya Muslim family from refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the Bangladeshi Home Minister Ashaduzzaman Khan said that the claim of repatriation was “nothing but a farce”, as quoted by local newspaper The Daily Star.
“The repatriated Rohingya family did not reach Bangladesh as they used to live on no-man’s land,” he said, responding to Burma’s claim on Saturday that it had repatriated a family of five people who it said had been residing in Bangladesh.
The UN has said more than 671,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Rakhine State into Cox’s Bazar in since Aug 25 in response to so-called “clearing operations” by Burma’s Tatmadaw army. The military and Buddhist vigilantes stand accused of mass killings, rape and arson in Muslim villages.
The two countries in January agreed that a repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Burma would take place within two years.“I hope Myanmar will repatriate all the families within the possible shortest time,” added Ashaduzzaman on Sunday.
Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abud Kalam told Reuters that “this is in no way a repatriation, rather it is propaganda.”
The Burmese government responded that “this is not propaganda”, that the family had chosen to return off their own volition and that “we are taking care of them”.
On Friday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned in a statement that the situation in Burma was “not conducive” for the return of Muslim refugees. It called upon Naypyidaw to ensure “concrete progress” regarding Rohingyas’ citizenship, freedom of movement and basic rights in Rakhine.
The UNHCR and Bangladesh last week signed a memorandum of understanding on refugee returns to ensure that they are safe, voluntary and dignified.