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Rohingya seek justice on first anniversary of Myanmar military crackdown

Anger and anguish: Rohingya women at the at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, protesting on the first anniversary of the Myanmar Army’s crackdown that led to a mass exodus of Muslims from the Rakhine State.   | Photo Credit: Altaf Qadri

Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees staged angry protests for “justice” on Saturday on the first anniversary of a Myanmar military crackdown that sparked a mass exodus to camps in Bangladesh.

Many wept as they recalled the brutal killings and rapes inflicted on the Muslim minority last year as 7,00,000 fled across the border.

The biggest refugee camp in the world is rigidly controlled by Bangladesh authorities and the peaceful but charged Rohingya marches and rallies seen there were unprecedented.

‘Never again’

A local police chief, Abul Khair, said that an estimated 40,000 refugees attended marches and rallies across the camps. “We are Rohingya, we want justice,” people chanted in the Kutupalong camp, where a giant banner proclaimed: “Never Again: Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day. 25 August, 2018.”

In a different part of the camp, thousands of women and children marched behind a huge poster declaring: “365 days of crying. Now I am angry.”

Rohingya militants staged attacks on Myanmar police posts on August 25 last year, sparking a bloody crackdown in Rakhine State. Nearly 7,000 Rohingya were killed in the first month, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Columns of people marching through the camp on Saturday waved banners and chanted Allahu Akbar (God is Great).

Myanmar authorities, who insist their forces only targeted insurgents, have made an agreement with Bangladesh to repatriate refugees but only a handful have gone back. Rohingya leaders say the exiles will not return home unless their safety is guaranteed.

Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week said it was up to Bangladesh “to decide how quickly” repatriation of the refugees can be accomplished.

She said the “terrorist threat” posed by Rohingya militants remains “real and present”.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which has been blamed for attacks in Myanmar, issued an anniversary statement in which it condemned Myanmar’s “terrorist government and genocidal military”.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 10:32:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/rohingya-seek-justice-on-first-anniversary-of-myanmar-military-crackdown/article24781485.ece

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