The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments should suspend plans to repatriate Rohingya refugees until returns are safe, voluntary and dignified, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
With new repatriations set to start on Thursday, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps protested that they will face the same violence and oppression in Myanmar which they fled.
Myanmar authorities have verified 3,454 people for an initial round of returns from a list of 22,000 submitted by Bangladesh authorities. The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and Bangladesh authorities said they are seeking to confirm that these refugees wish to return.
“Myanmar has yet to address the systematic persecution and violence against the Rohingya, so refugees have every reason to fear for their safety if they return,” said the rights body.
“Bangladesh has been generous with the Rohingya – though conditions in the camps have been difficult – no refugee should feel compelled to return to a place that isn’t safe.”
More than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape the Myanmar military. They joined about 200,000 refugees who had fled previous waves of violence and persecution.