The Myanmar government has been under intensive international criticism following a military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine that pushed some 700,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh amidst accusations of mass rape, murder and torture.
Tensions escalated after the government rejected the 440-page UN report on the crackdown, which stated that top military leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for their role in the crackdown.
The UN investigation was “flawed, biased and politically motivated”, Myanmar’s council representative, while rejecting the report’s findings, said.
“No one will be forced back to Myanmar,” Abul Kalam was quoted by AJ as having said.
In October, a bilateral repatriation plan was agreed by Bangladesh and Myanmar governments in which the former is scheduled to send back an initial group of 2,260 Rohingya from 485 families on Thursday.
The United Nations’ refugee agency opposed the move, along with aid groups, saying that the Muslim minority can’t be forced back.
The terms of the plan has not been made public.
“They survived atrocities so it’s natural they fear to go back,” Kalam said.
When asked whether the Rohingya would be guaranteed a “safe and dignified” return, Kalam said: “Everything is done as per the agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar. I hope the Myanmar authority will keep their words.”
Marzuki Darusman, the chairman of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said beyond mass killings, the conflict included the ostracisation of the population, prevention of births, and widespread displacement in camps.
Earlier this week, Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Bangladesh to halt the repatriation plan saying it violated international law.
“We are witnessing terror and panic among those Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar who are at imminent risk of being returned to Myanmar against their will,” she said.
“Forcibly expelling or returning refugees and asylum seekers to their home country would be a clear violation of the core legal principle of non-refoulement, which forbids repatriation where there are threats of persecution or serious risks to the life and physical integrity or liberty of the individuals.”