Two weeks before the UN Security Council visit to Burma/Myanmar, its government is spreading false and misleading claims.
As reported by CNN on April 16: “In a statement on Saturday, Myanmar said it had repatriated the first Rohingya family from refugees who have fled to Bangladesh. However, the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, said in a statement on Sunday that it had no direct knowledge of the case and was not consulted or involved in this reported return. Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, Abul Kalam, also disputed the claim. "The family who went to Myanmar is part of around 6,000 Rohingya living in the no-man's land camp, on the Myanmar side of the zero line," he told CNN.”
Human rights activists state that returnees will probably be given cards that do not allow permanent legal residence, not to mention citizenship. Current cards contain a statement that the Rohingya have come into the country illegally. Many questions remain about the legal status of any Rohingya that return.
Other experts question the destination of repatriated Rohingya. At the current time, it does not appear that Burma is planning to allow original Rohingya villages to be rebuilt. A newly built “processing camp” is seen in Taung Pyo Letwe, just over the border from Bangladesh.
“When there is impunity for atrocities, mass rape and genocide, how can there be safe conditions for return?” asked Imam Malik, Chair of Burma Task Force. “Concentration camps are not an acceptable option for the Rohingya families forced out of their ancestral homeland.”
Burma Task Force believes that all repatriation must be linked to return of Rohingya land and properties, as well as restoration of citizenship rights.
Photo by: REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain