Burma and Bangladesh are planning to send tens of thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh back to Burma.
Rohingya in Bangladesh haven’t been consulted about the deal, but Rohingya community leaders say they don’t want to return to Burma until it’s safe and their rights are guaranteed, including citizenship. The government of Burma hasn’t changed any of the laws and policies which discriminate against the Rohingya, and does not control the military so cannot guarantee that the military won’t attack them again when they return.
Rohingya won’t be allowed to return to their villages, which have been destroyed by the Burmese military and allied mobs. Instead they are being sent to giant prison camps. Rohingya put there will not be allowed to live elsewhere or travel freely. They will live in constant fear with no rights.
The government of Burma cannot afford to carry out the repatriation plan without international support. Aid agencies have refused to support the establishment of the new camps. The government of Japan and India have pledged financial and other forms of support for the repatriation programme. Japan has pledged $3m. India has pledged $25m over five years for development in Rakhine State, including for constructing buildings for returning Rohingya. The Burmese government says 80 people will be forced to live in each building.
More than a hundred thousand Rohingya have been living in camps since fleeing attacks in 2012. They are dependent on aid, which is severely restricted by the government, and suffer from high rates of malnutrition and extremely limited access to healthcare or education.
“India and Japan should not be providing financial assistance for Rohingya to return to Burma until it is safe for the refugees to do so,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “They are helping in the construction of giant prison camps. By supporting this repatriation programme, India and Japan are making themselves complicit in human rights violations which break international law.”