Mon, Aug 26, 2019 8:08

Rohingya refugees mark ‘black day’


United Nations investigators have found Myanmar troops’ ‘genocidal intent’ in mass killings and rapes during the operation.


Thousands of Rohingya Muslims started to gather on a muddy field next to the largest refugee camp of the world, Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar, under the sweltering sun after rains on Sunday morning, the second anniversary of the start of a Myanmar army operation dubbed ‘ethnic cleansing’.

The rally soon reached a nearby hill as the members of the ethnic minority called for an end to persecution and demanded justice for the military-led crackdown that forced over 700,000 people to cross the border.

United Nations investigators have found Myanmar troops’ ‘genocidal intent’ in mass killings and rapes during the operation.

Myanmar denies the allegations, and Bangladesh says its neighbor is responsible for the failure to start taking the refugees back to their homeland as the country is yet to ensure security of its nationals in Rakhine State.

The speakers in the rally reiterated the same demands they placed to return during recent repatriation attempt, the second botched one in as many years.

These include giving them citizenship, ensuring their security, returning their land and giving compensation for what they have faced in the crackdown that Myanmar said was a response to militant attacks on security posts.

“It is impossible that we will return only depending on Myanmar’s verbal assurances. They must give us back our rights if they want to take us back,” Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights Chairman Mohib Ullah told the rally.

“And for this, there must be dialogues between the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar, and the Rohingya,” he added.

Many of the refugees joined the rally wearing their traditional white dress and lungi while many others wore t-shirts that read, “We Want Justice for Rohingya”.

Rohingya women generally do not get outside their shacks without urgent needs, but many joined the rally carrying placards that read “Restore Our Citizenship”, “Women Safety and Security”.

 Abul Kalam, one of the participants, walked five miles to join the rally. With signs of mixed emotions of mourning, anger and fear in his face, he told “Today is the day when we faced torture. We have joined the rally to seek justice from the world. No-one is giving us justice. Please give us justice.”

Another participant, Mohammad Islam, said they organised the rally also to strengthen unity.

“Today is our ‘dark day’. We are observing it together. We will cross the border again together if we return,” he said.

The programme started through special prayers for those killed and tortured in the crackdown.

The Rohingya also sang a song in their language, which said: “We are the victims of genocide/we are the survivors of genocide/we want to return home with our rights and dignity”.

 Mohib Ullah said: “The military and the extremist Mog must face trial in international court for genocide, rape and torture in Myanmar’s Rakhine.”

He called for continued international pressure on Myanmar to take back the Rohingya, advising all not to be misled by “lies”.

Noor Hakim, a refugee representing the youth among them, said: “We don’t know what’s our future is. The little boys and girls are getting non-formal education, but we don’t have access to academic education. Our next generations must be freed from such a dark future.”

The Rohingya organisation’s General Secretary Syed Ullah, Vice President Abdur Rahim, Administrator Mohammad Kamal, and Hamida Khatun, a leader of Rohingya women’s group Shanti Mohila Sangstha, spoke at the programme.