By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Rohingya refugees living in cramped makeshift camps in Bangladesh’s southern Cox’s Bazar district with minimal basic needs said they are determined not to return to Myanmar without justice and full rights.
A good number of persecuted Rohingya people in the refugee camps warned in video messages that without fulfilling their legal demands, they will not accept any forceful repatriation to Rakhine state in Myanmar; rather they would welcome death in Bangladesh.
“They [Burmese army] have killed our people and raped our mothers, daughters and sisters. If we return, they will again do the same. We will not go there,” Hasina Begum, 29, said.
Begum fled Maungdaw township in Rakhine state following a brutal military crackdown on Aug. 25, 2017, and took shelter in a camp in Bangladesh. Since then more than 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh as they faced state-sponsored "mass killing", "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing".
Kolsoma Begum, a 22-year-old Rohingya woman, was more emotional while talking with her little baby on her lap and wiping out tears with a headscarf.
“We want justice of the murders of our mothers and sisters. If we are forced to return now we will prefer to commit suicide by having poison," she said.
Another aged Rohingya, Rashida Khatun, also warned of committing suicide and said: “They [Myanmar soldiers] burnt alive our small kids, damaged our houses and properties by fire. Where will we go now?”
Some other Rohingya women covered up with burqa were also crying while recalling their nightmare in Myanmar and demanding justice. They wanted the Myanmar government and military to be held accountable for crimes against the most persecuted community.
Mohammad Alam, who fled from Shilkhali area of Maungdaw township, however, uttered five specific demands as prerequisites for repatriation.
The demands include full citizenship rights; resettling at the same places they fled after August 2017 crackdown; justice for rape, gang rape, murder, burning and other oppression and damaging of properties; “unconditional” release of those Rohingya Muslims still locked “unjustly” in internally displaced camps (IDPs) and prisons in Myanmar and finally deployment of security forces under the UN to avoid repeat of repressions by the Myanmar army.
“We don’t want to stay in a foreign country for a long time, but we need justice, safety, and rights,” another Rohingya said, mentioning they would spontaneously back Myanmar with pleasure after fulfilling their legal demands.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community on Aug. 25 2017, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since that day, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
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Rohingya prefer death to life without rights in Myanmar
By Md. Kamruzzaman