Bangladesh, UNHCR dispute Myanmar's Rohingya repatriation claim

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 17, 2018

More than 670,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017, bringing with them stories of murder, rape and the destruction of villages at the hands of the military.

"The five members of a family. came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state this morning", said a statement posted on the official Facebook page of the government's Information Committee.

The website also said the family in question were actually relatives of an administrator at a designated entry point for returning refugees.

Myanmar's claim of the first repatriation comes just days after the UNHCR said conditions in Myanmar were not conducive for a return of refugees.

He, however, did not said that if any more repatriation were being planned immediately as Bangladesh had already given a list of more than 8,000 refugees for repatriation. The United Nations and the USA have described the army crackdown as "ethnic cleansing".

"Since the family never entered the Bangladesh territory, this is not a repatriation".

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Sunday termed ridiculous Myanmar's claim of repatriating a five-member Rohingya family, saying that Bangladesh does not have any information about that so-called repatriation.

A prosecutor from the International Criminal Court (ICC) has recently sought jurisdiction over the "deportation" of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, with the aim of investigating and prosecuting those responsible. The card has been widely rejected by Rohingya community leaders, who say they treat life-long residents like new immigrants. "The proposed claim for extension of jurisdiction may very well reap serious consequences and exceed the well-enshrined principle that the ICC is a body which operates on behalf of, and with the consent of State Parties which have signed and ratified the Rome Statute", the Myanmar government said in the statement on April 13.

Rohingya Muslims have always been treated as outsiders in Myanmar, even though their families have lived in the country for generations. It has systematically dismantled their legal rights and access to basic services in Rakhine, a state where many have lived for generations.

Rahim said they demanded to be recognized as citizens of Myanmar before the repatriation starts and that their security arrangements be supervised by the United Nations.

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