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BANGLADESH blocked the repatriation of almost 700,000 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar today over fears that they were being forced to return.
Refugee and repatriation commissioner Abul Kalam halted the returns, agreed to begin tomorrow, saying: “The main thing is that the process has to be voluntary.”
He added that paperwork for returning refugees had not yet been finalised and transit camps had yet to be built in Bangladesh.
“If they send us back forcefully we will not go,” Sayed Noor, who fled his village in Myanmar in August, said at the weekend, adding that Myanmar’s authorities “have to give us our rights and give us justice.”
The refugees fled to Bangladesh after the military of mainly Buddhist Myanmar began a brutal campaign of violence against the Muslim Rohingya.
“They will have to return all our wealth that they have looted and hold people accountable. They will have to compensate us. We came here because we are fighting for those things,” he said.
“If we don’t get all of this, then what was the point of coming here?”
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