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Rohingya mark third anniversary of Myanmar exodus

COX’S BAZAAR: This month marks the third anniversary of the fleeing of more than 750,000 Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh after a military-led crackdown.
Almost a million Rohingya refugees stuck in Bangladesh mark three years since escaping from Myanmar with coronavirus forcing them to hold a day-long silent protest inside their flimsy, leaky huts.
An August 2017 military operation that has triggered genocide charges at the UN’s top court drove 750,000 Rohingya out of Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh joining 200,000 who fled earlier.
Three years later and with no work or decent education for their children, there is little prospect of a return to the country, where members of the mostly Muslim minority have long been treated as inferior intruders.
Mohibullah, a Rohingya leader in the camps, told a news agency that Myanmar’s military “killed more than 10,000 of our people. They carried out mass murders and rapes and drove our people from their home”.
Last year during the second anniversary, he led a rally of about 200,000 protesters at Kutupalong, the largest camp in southeast Bangladesh, where 600,000 people live in cramped and unsanitary conditions.
Bangladeshi is increasingly impatient with Rohingya and cut internet access a year ago in the camp and has now banned gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic. The sprawling camps have been cut off from the rest of Bangladesh with the military erecting barbed-wire fences.
The fears that deadly virus could spread like wildfire as physical distancing is almost impossible have not been borne out with just 84 confirmed infections and six deaths. The Rohingya will mark ‘Genocide Remembrance Day’ with silence and prayers in their rickety homes all day.
Bangladesh has signed an agreement with Myanmar to return the refugees, but the Rohingya have refused to go without guarantees for their safety and proper rights. About 600,000 Rohingya remain in Myanmar but most are not regarded as citizens.
Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud bin Momen said the Rohingya are not convinced of the “sincerity of the Myanmar authorities”.
Brad Adams from Human Rights Watch said “Myanmar needs to accept an international solution that provides for the safe, voluntary return of Rohingya refugees, while an understandably stretched Bangladesh should not make conditions inhospitable for refugees who have nowhere to go.”
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