Rohingya call on perpetrators to face justice on anniversary of attacks

Tuesday, 28 Aug, 2018

Thousands of refugees, including children and the elderly, marched prayed and chanted slogans in the sprawling camps in southern Bangladesh.

"The burden of responsibility needs to be shared by the worldwide community", UNHCR Spokesperson in Bangladesh Joseph Surja Tripura told UNB.

Fiona MacGregor has been in southern Bangladesh since December a year ago with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled violence last August.

But so far, the Myanmar military have gotten away with their crimes. "For that, it would be necessary to move out from the stateless limbo where they are now". "We want justice. We want to go back to our homes". But Myanmar says it was simply defending itself and bristles at global calls for justice.

Myanmar is unrepentant about last year's crackdown and denies widespread human rights violations, murders, rapes and mass arson of Rohingya villages despite reams of evidence.

Also on Saturday, some 100 protesters from a group of nongovernment organisations formed a human chain in front of the national press club in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, to demand the global community put pressure on the Myanmar government to try those responsible for murder, rape and arson, the English-language Daily Star newspaper reported.

Any uptick in violence will deepen concerns from refugees about the repatriation deal Myanmar and Bangladesh signed earlier this year. They joined more than 200,000 others that had fled to Bangladesh after previous waves of violence, bringing the total number of Rohingya hosted in Cox's Bazar district to over 919,000.

On the occasion of the last ad limina visit of the members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), the pontiff told Card Bo that he intends to organise an worldwide conference on the Rohingya.

Although Rohingya regard themselves as native to Rakhine, where more than one million of them lived before hundreds of thousands fled their homes, Myanmar has denied majority citizenship, restricting their access to some of the most basic rights.

But "that will only happen when Myanmar is able to look at a long-term solution in conjunction with Bangladesh and support from the region". At the end of their trip, they urged Myanmar to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the refugees to Rakhine.

More marches and gatherings were planned across what has become the world's biggest refugee camp, activists told AFP.

Bangladesh signed a deal with Myanmar previous year to allow the refugees to return, but the repatriation process has been stalled.

WHO continues to build the capacity of health workers to provide mental health and psychosocial support services to the Rohingya refugees.

We have recommended concrete steps to hold them and others accountable, including for the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court and the establishment of an international mechanism to collect and preserve evidence for use in future criminal proceedings.

Meanwhile, on the eve of the anniversary of the start of the unprecedented Rohingya exodus, BenarNews interviewed some 50 Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, many of whom expressed morbid reluctance over the prospect of being sent back to Rakhine. It is important that the Rohingya people do not suffer anymore. Although living under constant fear for their lives has ended for people who made it to Bangladesh, the entire ordeal has left a mark on the minds of these refugees.