Frightened Rohingya rebuff Bangladesh repatriation bid

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When asked about the allegations received from the government officials, he said, 'we (UNHCR) can not support the repatriation process as we believe this is not the right time to send them back, before creating a conducive environment in Rakhine'.

Several thousand Rohingya instead staged protests declining to go back to Myanmar as Bangladesh began preparations to repatriate an initial batch of 2,000 Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, in line with a plan agreed with Myanmar in October.

"We hope she'll be able to influence the government on the opinions expressed in the conference", he added.

He and other community leaders said that an increase in the number of Bangladeshi soldiers at the camps in recent days had stoked anxiety.

The release said that the U.S.is following developments closely regarding the joint plans of Bangladesh and Myanmar to repatriate Rohingya.

The Bangladesh government has assured that no refugees will be forced to return, but the measures taken in the camps have led to the concern that this might not be the case.

So while the Myanmar government talks about building temporary shelters, offering medical care and sufficient food rations for Rohingyas who return, many global observers insist the root causes of the violence and hate-filled attitudes need to be properly tackled before Rohingyas can return home and live with safety and dignity.

"The Bangladesh government will be stunned to see how quickly worldwide opinion turns against it if it starts sending unwilling Rohingya refugees back into harm's way in Myanmar", said Bill Frelick, HRW refugee rights director. "If you say you will shoot us if we do not agree to go back, we will welcome bullets, we still will not go".

More than 700,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border to join around 400,000 refugees in Bangladesh after Myanmar launched an army operation against the minority Muslims on Aug 25 a year ago after insurgent attacks on security posts.

Mohammed Selim, 23, said his wife and seven other family members went into hiding after finding out that they would be sent back.

Responding to Pence, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said it was good to exchange views, but that "we understand our country better than any other country does".

"We are grateful to the Bangladesh government, the Bangladeshi people for their help".

A coalition of 42 humanitarian and civil society groups has deemed the repatriation process "dangerous and premature". "Returning refugees to a place where their rights will be routinely violated and where their lives will be at constant risk is unacceptable - and unconscionable", Nicholas Bequelin said. The scale, organization and ferocity of the operation led to accusations from the global community, including the United Nations, of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

In Rakhine State, little has changed on the ground to make returns safe or dignified.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says conditions are not right for Rohingya Muslim refugees to return safely to Myanmar from Bangladesh, where over 700,000 have sought refuge since August 2017 following a military crackdown.

US Vice-President Mike Pence told Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday that the violence against the Rohingya was "without excuse", adding pressure to Myanmar's civilian leader. "That's the responsibility of the government of Myanmar", Seppo said.

Most people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not accept that the Rohingya Muslims are a native ethnic group. Almost all Rohingya have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since a 1982 law went into effect.

Rohingya refugees Sitara Begum with her son, Mohammed Abbas, who are on the list for repatriation wait in their shelter at Jamtoli refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on Thursday. "These people are trying to survive as human beings with their rights, honor, and dignity with their freedom of religion, but they are being labeled as terrorists".

Last year, the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in Rakhine state after Rohingya militants carried out deadly attacks on police posts. Marked by their religion and their language - most speak a dialect of Bengali, while most of their neighbors speak Rakhine - they are easy to target.

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