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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The unheard voices of Rohingyas in Bangladesh camps

Myanmar's military has failed to keep its promises. They have deceived the Rohingyas and democratic protestors.  It has not been able to persuade Myanmar to guarantee repatriation. It has also failed to prosecute those who have perpetrated crimes against humanity.

Thousands of Rohingyas launched a go-home campaign and held rallies in multiple camps in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhia and Teknaf on June 19 and 20, 2022, hoping to return to Myanmar.

They made a list of demands at the rallies, including starting immediate repatriation and resettlement of Rohingyas to Myanmar, repealing Myanmar’s Citizenship Act of 1982, ensuring Rohingya rights, safety, and security in Myanmar, closing IDP camps in Rakhine state, and putting an end to the torture of innocent people in Myanmar. From 8:00 a.m., Rohingya men and children joined rallies in most of the 34 camps and sang slogans.

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Understanding the matter better

They stated that they do not want to remain in Bangladesh and instead want to return to their homeland of Arakan, currently known as Rakhine. For the first time since 2019, the government has allowed large protests in Rohingya camps. Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya leader who was assassinated on September 29, 2021, organized the huge protest in August 2019 with the help of some other voluntary organizations.

The UN ambassador for Myanmar has been encouraged to advocate for the early repatriation of Rohingya Muslims.The most recent marches in Rohingya camps took place ahead of World Refugee Day, which was marked worldwide on June 20, 2022.’We are Myanmar citizens,’ ‘Myanmar is our motherland,’ and ‘Let’s go’ were among the banners and posters carried by Rohingyas to the rallies.

‘Please UN, help us return to our motherland; please world community, help us save our rights in Myanmar,’ says a giant banner. The rallies were held to raise the attention of the world community to their desire for a return to Myanmar, according to the organizers. They wanted the international community to support their homecoming.

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The protests were intended to send a message to the world that they wanted to return to their homeland. The Rohingyas were voicing their views from their respective positions.

According to media reports, around 10,000 Rohingyas attended protests in 11 locations across 15 camps. Following the 2017 flood of persecuted Myanmar nationals fleeing military crackdowns in the Rakhine state to Bangladesh for safety, the number of Rohingya people in Bangladesh has surpassed 1 million.

“Let’s go home,” demonstrators screamed in Cox’s Bazar on June 19 during a demonstration at Ukhiya and Teknaf. According to pamphlets issued prior of the protests, slain civilian leader Mohib Ullah’s organization was among the organizers.

“Can you tell me how many days there are left…?” “Let’s go home, let’s travel to Myanmar,” “Myanmar is our Motherland,” “United Nations, Please Help Us Go Home,” and “We Want Justice, We Want Our Rights,” read slogans on banners carried by protestors in Burmese and English.They held rallies that were highly armed and escorted by law enforcement. For a few days, the migrants ran a “Let’s Go Home” campaign to rally support for the protests.

The Myanmar military carried out the operation with genocidal intent, according to the UN.” We’re the Rohingya in Bangladeshi refugee camps who survived a Rohingya genocide,” the “Let’s Go Home” campaign leaflets stated. Rallies were held at Camp No. 26 and 27 in Teknaf at around 9:30 a.m., according to law enforcement and Rohingya authorities. Protesters marched from Camp No. 27 to Camp No. 26, where they assembled near the camp-in-office charge.

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“The Rohingya are Myanmar’s persecuted Muslims. “We’ve been forcibly made stateless people.”It’s been five years since we left our native country in 2017.” How long will we be stranded? We don’t want to be homeless, and we’re concerned about our children’s future. We wish to go back to Arakan and live there as legal residents.”

Rohingya voices are reflected around the camps

Since 1978, the Rohingya people have been exposed to crimes such as rape, murder, and arson attacks. Several times, their communities were set on fire. Myanmar refuses to provide the Rohingya people with citizenship and basic rights. Rohingyas expressed gratitude to Bangladesh for providing humanitarian sanctuary to the Rohingya community. “However, Bangladesh is not our birthplace. We’d like to go back to Myanmar.”

Myanmar citizenship, time-bound return with dignity, security, and accountability are among the requests included in the pamphlets. They also want Myanmar to recognize them as a minority ethnic group. Myanmar’s Buddhist majority refers to the Rohingya as “Bengali.”

They stated that the time spent in transit camps should be limited and that all Rohingya should be repatriated village by village. The UN agencies, as well as countries such as the United States and Bangladesh, must be included in the repatriation process, according to the demonstrators.

They also urged that the international community safeguard Rakhine’s R2P, or Responsibility to Protect. R2P is an international standard designed to ensure that the international community never again fails to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

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The flyers stated that the Rohingya people should not be considered as terrorists, that international media should be allowed in all areas of Rakhine, and that the Rohingya people’s property and assets, including as prawn farms and grazing lands, should be returned to them.

5 Years On, the World and Myanmar military failed to resolve the Rohingya crisis

The international community and the Myanmar military must take notice of this campaign because they are one of the most significant audiences for whom such activities are designed. As a current regime, the Myanmar military can’t remain silent in this regard. English, Burmese, and Rohingya are inscribed on the banners, pamphlets, and placards. Myanmar, the international community, and the Rohingyas are the target audiences. In the last five years, the international community has failed to play an effective role. They have failed to help repatriate Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military has failed to keep its promises. They have deceived the Rohingyas and democratic protestors.  It has not been able to persuade Myanmar to guarantee repatriation. It has also failed to prosecute those who have perpetrated crimes against humanity. Again, as financing for the Rohingya has dropped over time, they have forgotten about them. As a result, the international community should recognize this movement and leverage its institutional authority to help with the repatriation process.

But this time, the Myanmar military must hear the voices of the Rohingyas. If Myanmar’s military doesn’t respond positively, then the international community must comply Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas by applying all possible means. Myanmar military’s reluctance to take the Rohingyas in their homeland hindrances the world peace.

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Bangladesh and Myanmar on June 14 held the fifth meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) virtually regarding the repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Bangladesh to their homeland in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. This event would be fruitful if Myanmar military implements decisions taken at the meetings. This time, the Myanmar military must keep their words taking back the Rohingyas.

The ‘go home’ campaign is an outpouring of Rohingya dissatisfaction with the way we have failed them over the last five years. It should be viewed from the standpoint of a victimized community’s rights.

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The campaign should also act as a “wake-up call” for the international community, which should put pressure on Myanmar to ensure the repatriation of its citizens. Myanmar appears unwilling to guarantee repatriation after five years of crisis. Instead, it is merely delaying the process.

The campaign’s message must also reach Myanmar, where regular people are fighting for their democratic rights against the regime. Last but not least, by recognizing such nonviolent political initiatives, we should respect the Rohingya community’s aspirations and collective memory.


Written by Kyaw Min

The writer is an activist, educator, freelance writer, and researcher. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space (GVS News).