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Rohingya Muslims stranded in borderland not willing to return

10 March 2018 18:39


Some 6,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have been displaced from their homes in Myanmar and are locked outside the border with Bangladesh are not willing to return home, a new report says.

The report, published on Saturday by the Associated Press, showed that many of refugees now living in squalid tents in no-man’s-land between Myanmar and Bangladesh have no intention of returning to their villages in Myanmar despite a deal between the two countries to have them relocated to their homes.

The report showed Myanmar’s increased deployment along the borderland has made Rohingya Muslims more irritated as they fear being killed or prosecuted if they return home.

The refugees said troops constantly shout insults and throw empty bottles at them. Speakers have also been set up near refugee tents, urging people to go further into Bangladesh.

However, refugees living in the area, who are mostly from nearby villages, do not want to leave the place and enter Bangladesh. They prefer to stay there and keep their homes in sight.

“They have burned our homes but my trees are still growing,” said Ruksana Begum, a 20-year-old housewife, adding, “It’s spring now. I can see the green leaves of my mango trees.”

Around 700,000 people fled to Bangladesh after a massive crackdown began in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August. The military and Buddhist mobs torched and looted almost all Rohingya homes, raped women and killed more than 6,500 people. The United Nations designated the massacre as a text-book example of ethnic cleansing.

Bangladesh has refused to accept Rohingya Muslims now living in the borderland while Myanmar does not basically recognize the region as a no-man’s-land. Nyan Myint Kyaw, Myanmar’s deputy commander of border police, said the refugees are still living in Myanmar’s territory.

“We cannot accept the term ‘no-man’s-land’ because that is our land,” he said.

The silhouette of a Bangladeshi soldier is seen in Tombru, the Bangladeshi district of Bandarban, on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, March 1, 2018. (AFP photo)


Authorities say an increased deployment along the region, which came a few weeks ago despite objections by Bangladesh, was meant to prevent attacks by Rohingya Muslims.

“These are only actions taken against the terrorist groups,” Myanmar spokesman Zaw Htay said in early March. “This is not like we are trying to invade Bangladesh.”

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