First camp for Rohingya refugees returning to Burma will open next week

Joy Montgomery
January 20, 2018

Tun Ther Sein, regional MP from Mrauk U, said some of the critically injured protesters were taken to the state capital of Sittwe, a three-hour drive south of the ancient town studded with Buddhist temples.

As many as 10,000 demonstrators gathered and marched to Rakhine District Administration Office to lodge a protest which turned violent. Reports are now conflicting - some say they tried to enter government property forcefully, others (including the police) say officers began to shoot when rocks were thrown.

Though Myanmar authorities said that the campaign was aimed at rooting out Rohingya militants who attacked police posts on August 25 but the United Nations and the U.S. have said the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Pyithu Hluttaw speaker U Win Myint had the previous day approved a police request for the arrest of the Ann Township MP and former Arakan National Party leader, followingclashes between police and Rakhine protestors in Mrauk U that claimed at least nine lives on Tuesday.

Arif Hossein, a former teacher in a Myanmar government school who fled to the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh after violence erupted last August, said he would return if the global organizations working to protect the refugees are able to go along. "We urge authorities to investigate any disproportionate use of force or other illegal actions that may have occurred in relation to this incident".

"Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands".

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Around 1 million Rohingyas are now sheltering at cramped and squalid refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh, after fleeing cycles of violence in Rakhine state across the border, including at least 655,000 who crossed into the country since the military crackdown in August.

Rakhine say the Rohingya are illegal "Bengali" immigrants to a Buddhist land.

An estimated 200,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to avoid communal violence with local Rakhine communities and military operations prior to October 2016.

The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed that the repatriation process of Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi territory will be completed within two years from the date it begins.

Writer Wai Hin Aung has been detained, said the Police Force.

Aye Maung could not be reached for comment by Frontier on Wednesday. Translated by Khet Mar.

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