Rights groups urge intl. monitoring of Rohingya’s return

Press TV- Prominent human rights groups have called on international agencies to monitor the safe return of Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, as global pressure mounts on the country over state-sponsored violence that has externally displaced hundreds of thousands from the minority group.

On Thursday, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement for the return of the Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh amid an escalation of violence in Myanmar over the past months.

The office of Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has said that the deal followed a formula set in a 1992 repatriation agreement inked by the two nations following an earlier surge of violence. Under that pact, Rohingya Muslims were required to provide residency documents, which few had, before being allowed to return to Myanmar.

The government in Myanmar refuses to recognize the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine as a local ethnic group even though they have lived there for generations.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday that there could be no safe return without international monitors ensuring the security of the minority group.

‘A public relations stunt’

HRW also cast doubt over Myanmar’s intentions to secure the return of the Muslim refugees given the country’s heavy-handed crackdown on them.

“The idea that Burma (Myanmar) will now welcome them back to their smoldering villages with open arms is laughable,” said Bill Frelick, the refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“Instead of signing on to a public relations stunt, the international community should make it clear that there can be no returns without international monitors to ensure security, an end to the idea of putting returnees in camps, the return of land, and the rebuilding of destroyed homes and villages,” Frelick added.

This file photo, taken on October 9, 2017, shows Rohingya refugees waiting after crossing the Naf River from Myanmar into Bangladesh, in Whaikhyang, on October 9, 2017. (By AFP)

Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where the Rohingya population has been concentrated for generations, has been the scene of violence by the military and Buddhist mobs since late last year. The soldiers and the mobs have been killing, torturing, and raping the Rohingya Muslims there, and have been burning down their villages.

Amnesty International also said the United Nations (UN) and the international community had completely been sidelined in the process to return the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

The UN refugee agency also says it has to be involved in the repatriation operations to ensure that international standards are met.