News ID: 233984
Published: 0305 GMT November 09, 2018

Rohingya refugee attempts suicide as repatriation fears rise

Rohingya refugee attempts suicide as repatriation fears rise
FRED DUFOUR/AFP

Rohingya refugee attempted suicide this week after being told he was on a repatriation list to Burma, highlighting deep-seated fears among the Muslim minority about being forced out of their current refuge in Bangladesh.

Dil Mohammad, 60, was one of some 750,000 Rohingya who fled a campaign of violence and terror waged by the Burmese military in the country’s western Rakhine state last year, The Telegraph reported.

Since then he and his family have sheltered in the squalid, dusty refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, where refugees long to return to their homes when their rights and safety can be guaranteed.

Mr. Mohammad's drastic actions were prompted by false rumors that he was going to be repatriated against his will. Doctors managed to save his life after he was rushed to a nearby hospital.

“My husband said Burma, where we may face rape, murder and other violence again, is unsafe for all Rohingyas and so we should not return,” Somira Begum, his wife, told the Telegraph.

“Since his name was on the list, he feared he would be picked up by police and forcibly sent across the border. He looked very tense and scared,” she said. “We are thankful to Allah that his life has been saved.”

Bangladesh and Burma, a country also known as Myanmar, announced last week that the first repatriations of about 2,000 refugees would begin in ‘mid-November.’

United Nations officials have objected to the plan, underlining that the conditions in Rakhine state are “not yet conducive for returns”.  

“I think we can't stress enough that returns cannot be rushed or premature, and the decision on whether or not for a refugee to return should be determined by the refugees themselves when they feel the time and the circumstances are right,” said Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres.

On Tuesday, Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, said that repatriation plans should be dropped, warning that Burma had "failed to provide guarantees they [Rohingya] would not suffer the same persecution and horrific violence all over again.”

Mr. Mohammad said it was a huge relief to find that his name was not a list of those required to return, but many others in the camps are living in fear of being forced to go.

Monu Mia, a Rohingya camp leader who is married with six children, said he was told by a Bangladeshi official that his name was on a repatriation list.

“He told me that I have to return to Myanmar. I indeed want to go back to my home land, but only after the situation for the Rohingya improves there.

"He told me: ‘The call to cross the border may come any day from November 15. Stay prepared,’” he said. “I am very scared.”

Another refugee, Siam Mia, said he knew of about 200 refugees who were on the list and who did not wish to return.  

“The security forces who unleashed genocide-like violence against us are still around there. I can never trust them. There is no guarantee that they will not turn against us again as they did last year,” he said.

“I certainly want to go back to my homeland. But I cannot return until our demands are met.”

Monu Mia and Siam Mia both stressed that their names appeared in the list without their consent. “They did not ask me whether I wanted to return to Myanmar,” Siam Mia said.

 

 

 

 

   
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