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21 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Rohingyas refuse to return sans guarantees

AFP

Rohingya refugees living in no man’s land refused yesterday to return to Myanmar without guarantees of citizenship and security after Bangladesh and Myanmar officials met to discuss their repatriation, reports AFP from Cox’s Bazar. The 6,000 Rohingya were among the first to flee Myanmar in the wake of a brutal military crackdown on the Muslim minority in late August. They have been living ever since in a makeshift camp in a strip of unclaimed land between the two countries.

In recent weeks they have come under pressure to return, with a Myanmar minister warning of “consequences” if they remain in no man’s land. But community leader Dil Mohammad told AFP they would not return without guarantees of security, citizenship and compensation for property lost in the clampdown.

“We are not going to return to our homes and villages in Myanmar unless our demands are met. We want citizenship, all rights, security to our lives and property and compensation,” he said.

Mainly Buddhist Myanmar denies citizenship to its Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state, insisting they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have been there for generations.

Nearly 700,000 fled after last year’s crackdown, which the United Nations has said amounted to ethnic cleansing. Most of those now live in camps across the border in Bangladesh, but the country’s government has made clear it does not want them to stay and has agreed to start sending them home. On Tuesday officials from both countries held talks to decide the fate of the 6,000 before speaking to them directly in no man’s land.

“Every person we spoke to said that they would go back to their homes if they got security,” said the head of the Bangladesh delegation, Abdul Mannan. A spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency told AFP any returns must be voluntary.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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