Rohingya Muslims living in sprawling refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh have staged demonstrations demanding repatriation to their ethnic homeland of Rakhine state in Myanmar.
Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday allowed several groups of Rohingya to hold simultaneous ‘Go Home’ demonstrations ahead of the World Refugee Day on Monday. Organizers said more than 1,000 Rohingya took part in each of the events in at least 29 camps.
Police said thousands of refugees joined the marches, standing on roads and alleys with placards that read, ‘Enough is Enough! Let’s Go Home.’
“Over 10,000 Rohingya took part in the rally in the camps under my jurisdiction,” police official Naimul Haque said, referring to Kutupalong, the largest refugee settlement in the world.
Top Rohingya community leader Sayed Ullah said in a speech at one rally, “We don’t want to stay in the camps. Being refugees is not easy. It’s hell. Enough is enough. Let’s go home.”
Authorities deployed extra security in the camps to prevent any violence.
Last week, the foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and Myanmar held a meeting by video conference. The Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry said that during the meeting Myanmar’s government was encouraged to repatriate the Rohingya refugees before the year’s end. “We are hopeful the repatriation will start after the monsoon this year at least in a limited scale.”
Previous repatriation attempts have failed, with the Rohingya refusing to go home until Myanmar gives the largely Muslim minority guarantees of security. Rohingya leaders say they want to go back to their original villages in Rakhine.
Bangladeshi authorities have become increasingly impatient about hosting the refugees while criticizing the rest of the international community for not providing more assistance.
At least 920,000 Rohingya refugees remain stuck in squalid, crowded conditions in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. This includes about 750,000 Rohingya who were forced to leave their homeland amid the military-led crackdown against their community in 2017.
Thousands were killed, raped, tortured, or arrested in the crackdown, perpetrated with “genocidal intent,” according to the United Nations, which has described the community as the most persecuted minority in the world.
The Rohingya, who have lived in Myanmar for generations, are denied citizenship and are branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship.