Thousands of Rohingya refugees held a protest rally on Sunday in Bangladesh, marking “Genocide Day” on the second anniversary of a Myanmar military offensive that forced nearly 738,000 members of the Muslim minority community to flee to the neighbouring nation.
The refugees gathered at the massive Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district, carrying different banners and placards that sought dialogue with Myanmar authorities before they return home, reports Efe news.
The placards referred to the anniversary of the start of Rohingya crisis, while a few of them said “Going Home Campaign; talk to us”, “Talk to us about rights, Talk to us about citizenship and Rohingya ethnicity”, “Talk to us about security”.
Sunday’s protest came less than a week after a fresh move by the Bangladesh and Myanmar authorities to start their repatriation failed as no Rohingya agreed to return.
A similar move had also failed last November as the refugees refused to return home unless their rights were assured.
“We would like to go back home with our rights as a citizen, our safety and security and in our original land. We want a dialogue with Myanmar government about our rights,” Mohammad Jubair, a leader of Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, told Efe news.
The rally ended with special prayers for victims of the offensive.
Bangladesh police said the rally at Camp-4 near Madhucharara, which was attended by about 100,000 Rohingya, ended peacefully.
“Rohingyas held several rallies in several places of Kutupalang and Teknaf today. About 100,000 Rohingyas joined in the biggest one in Camp-4,” said Nurul Islam Majumder, an officer at a police station in Ukhya sub-district of Cox’s Bazar.
“It ended peacefully. We have deployed enough forces to prevent any untoward incident,” he added.
On August 25, 2017, Myanmar military launched a campaign against Rohingyas after insurgents of the rebel group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked multiple security posts, forcing the minority Muslim group to flee in neighbouring Bangladesh.
The refugees have been living in poor conditions in the world’s biggest refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.
Another 125,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in conditions of segregation as internally displaced persons, after episodes of sectarian violence that started in 2012.
Myanmar classifies Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, denying them citizenship and imposing a number of restrictions, including limits on their freedom of movement.