Approximately 200.000 people gathered for a peaceful protest in Cox Bazar in Bangladesh where more than 900.000 Rohingya have lived under grave conditions since their forced displacement from Myanmar following attacks and violence in August 2017. They demanded citizenship and basic rights in Myanmar before agreeing to return.

The protesters marking the two year anniversary of “Genocide Day” demanded rights, citizenships, and the return of land to the Rohingya community that is not recognized as an official ethnic group in Myanmar. In the refugee camp in Cox Baza, which was ravaged by Monsoon rain in July, they live under harsh conditions, health risks, limited services and lack of rights. However, attempts to voluntarily repatriate Rohingya are failing.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) conducting the interviews of the 3,450 people who have been approved for return by the government in Myanmar stated that: “So far none of those interviewed have indicated a willingness to repatriate at this time. UNHCR will continue assisting the government of Bangladesh in this process to ensure that all those cleared for return are interviewed.” According to Bangladeshi refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, Mohammad Abul Kalam, the fear of lack of “physical safety […] is the main reason they do not want to go to Myanmar now”.

The military crack-down in 2017 in Myanmar’s Rakhine State was the culmination of generations of marginalisation and disenfranchisement of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

For further information:


Photo: (CC) CAFOD Photo Library, September 2017

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.