Rohingya Muslim refugees have staged a protest rally at a camp in Bangladesh, calling for United Nations (UN) protection on their potential return to Myanmar as well as citizenship.
The rally on Sunday coincided with a four-day visit by the UN Security Council representatives to Bangladesh and Myanmar to see firsthand the aftermath of state-sponsored violence against the minority Muslims in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which has been denounced by the world body as “ethnic cleansing.”
“We hope the Security Council will carry out solo investigations of our difficulties and how our demands are and to probe and settle our difficulties,” said Abdul Rahim, one of the participants in the rally at the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh’s Ukhia’s district.
The UN envoys arrived in Bangladesh earlier in the day to examine the situation of the thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled the brutal crackdown in their home country of Myanmar.
The UN delegation will speak to and conduct face-to-face interviews with the refugees in Bangladesh before they head to Myanmar to visit Rakhine, the state where the Rohingya lived before violence intensified against them.
Thousands of the Muslims have been brutally killed by government soldiers and Buddhist mobs since late 2016. About 700,000 others have fled to Bangladesh since August last year.
The UN team will meet Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has come under global criticism for backing the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.
In November last year, the Security Council strongly condemned the government-sanctioned violence against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority in a unanimously-backed statement. The Council, however, failed to adopt an enforceable resolution due to opposition by Myanmar’s ally China.
Myanmar has denied the widespread accounts of violence against the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine.
On Friday, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the atrocities.
The Rohingya had lived in Myanmar for generations but were denied citizenship and branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them citizenship. The Muslim population in Rakhine has either been decimated or fled to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement late last year to return the Muslim refugees. The process has been delayed due to the Muslims’ concerns about their safety.
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