Report: Rohingya Repatriation Plan Poses 'Grave Risks'

    Report: Rohingya Repatriation Plan Poses 'Grave Risks'
    Last updated May 19, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via CNN]


    • [Non-governmental organization] Human Rights Watch is criticizing a proposed plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh back to Myanmar, stating that it poses "grave risks" to life and freedom. A pilot project between the two nations is set to return 1.1K Rohingya to Myanmar in the coming weeks.[1]
    • Bangladesh is home to nearly a million refugees who fled violence in Myanmar beginning in 2017, with previous repatriation plans in 2018 and 2019 stalling due to concerns from refugees over violence.[2]
    • In April, a China-mediated conference between Bangladesh and Myanmar broke the stalemate, and Myanmar officials visited refugee camps in Cox's Bazar to assess candidates for voluntary repatriation. Earlier this May, a delegation of 20 Rohingya returned to Myanmar's Rakhine state at the request of the government to tour resettlement camps.[3]
    • Human Rights Watch has called for a halt on the repatriation plan, accusing Bangladesh of trying to discharge the "burden" of Rohingya refugees, and "setting the stage" for future atrocities. The organization has claimed to have spoken to five Rohingya who took part in the Rakhine tour, who described "detention-like" conditions and no guarantees of citizenship.[4]
    • Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner has denied that refugees were pressured to take part in the tour. Around 600K Rohingya are currently living in camps in Rakhine.[1]
    • Human Rights Watch has stated that the prospects of repatriation declined significantly after the 2021 military coup in Myanmar. While Myanmar claims the plan has UN and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) support, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has denied involvement and stated in March that conditions in Rakhine are "not conducive" to the return of Rohingya refugees.[4]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The world needs to step in and stop the repatriation plan before the Rohingya are returned back into the arms of those seeking to exterminate them. Bangladesh is violating international norms by trying to send the refugees back to Myanmar as soon as possible, while Myanmar is showing no indication of granting them citizenship or basic human rights. The situation after the military coup is looking more and more dire, as genocidal generals now hold the levers of power.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Despite the resistance of the international humanitarian community, China has assured that the reparation process will occur in a humane way. Bangladesh is a nation with limited resources, and the conditions in the Cox's Bazar camps are rapidly deteriorating. There is no solution for the crisis except inside Myanmar itself, and this is the first step in the process of healing and rebuilding what has been lost. Beijing has picked up the burden of the international community's shortcomings.

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