Rohingya refugees refuse to return to Myanmar before they are recognized

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Rwandan refugees in Bangladesh have refused to return to Myanmar unless they are recognized as an ethnic group, refugee leaders told officials from Myanmar on Sunday as new talks began to return the Rohingya.

A Myanmar military campaign in retaliation for insurgent attacks in 2017 has left 730,000 Muslim Rohingyas fleeing to the border region of Cox-Bazar, in southeast Bangladesh, where they live in miserable camps for fear of further persecution if they return to Myanmar.

UN investigators said the military operation in Myanmar involved mass murder, gang rape and arson, and that it was “genocide.” Myanmar denies the charge.

This is the second visit by officials from Myanmar to the camps in Cox-Pazar to try to persuade the Rohingya refugees to start the return process. In October, the Rohingya rejected an offer to return home when a delegation from Myanmar held talks with refugee leaders.

The Myanmar delegation led by Min Tho, permanent secretary of foreign affairs, held talks with 35 Rohingya leaders in Cox-Pazar on Saturday and Sunday amid tight security in the camps.

Rohingya leaders said they wanted Myanmar to recognize them as an ethnic group with the right to citizenship before returning there.

“We told them that we would not return unless we were recognized as a Krohinga in Myanmar,” said Del Mohammed, a Rohingya leader who joined the talks by telephone.

“We want citizenship and we want all our rights. We do not trust them. We will only return under international protection.”

“We will return to our land … we do not want to end up living in camps.”

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