Rohingyas launch 'Go Home' campaign for repatriation
The Rohingyas have started a ‘Go Home’ campaign in the camps of Ukhiya and Teknaf to return to their own homes in Rakhine state of Myanmar. Dividing up into smaller groups, they have been running this campaign at different educational institutes, houses and around the camps for the last few days.
To accelerate the campaign and to let the world know about it Rohingya citizens staged demonstrations at 12 places on Sunday.
Basically, it is the educated Rohingyas, most of whom are youth, who are running this campaign in the camps of Cox’s Bazar. It was said that this campaign is not only limited inside the Rohingya camps.
The campaign is also being promoted on social media. On social media too, they urged people to make Sunday’s programme a success.
For the last two and a half years since the beginning of the corona pandemic, meetings, gatherings, rallies and demonstrations of the Rohingya people in the camps were banned.
When asked about this campaign activity of the Rohingya community, Mohammad Shamsud Douza, additional refugee relief and repatriation commissioner at the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) told Prothom Alo, “We are not restricting their peaceful programme. However, Rohingya people have not been given permission for a large gathering or any protest rally or demonstrations except for human chains as yet.”
Banners and posters of the ‘Go Home’ campaign are seen in and around the Rohingya camps. From Saturday morning, quite a few banners had been hung on the roads and alleys of Baluikhali, Lambashya, Madhurchhara and Kutupalong camps in Ukhiya.
Photographs of Rohingya people while they were running away from Rakhine state to Bangladesh five years ago, have been used in these banners. Slogans have been written on those banners in English, Burmese and Rohingya languages.
In one of the banners it was written, “We are the Rohingya nation of Arakan state (present Rakhine state) of Myanmar. We have been living under Bangladesh’s shelter for several years. Myanmar has not taken initiative to take the Rohingyas back to their motherland. There is no legal government in Myanmar to take them back either. Therefore, we have to build our own future. Let’s go back home.”
Common Rohingyas are saying, Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and human Rights (ARSPH) is the main organiser of the ‘Go Home’ campaign. Master Mohib Ullah was the chairman of this organisation. He was killed in 2021. Leaders and activists of this organisation went into hiding after that murder. Though some of them have come out of hiding now, ‘Go Home’ campaign is being held under the banner of ‘Nirjatita Rohingya Janogoshti (Persecuted Rohingya Community)’.
Ayasur Rahman, one of the organisers of the ‘Go Home’ campaign of the Rohingyas said, “20 June is the World Refugee Day. On this occasion, today on 19 June we the Rohingya people want the world to know that we are the citizens of Myanmar by gathering inside all the Rohingya camps of Ukhiya and Teknaf. Arakan state (present Rakhaine state is our birthplace. We want to return to our motherland.”
Around 900 thousands Rohingya citizens live inside 23 camps in Ukhiya. Between 10.00am to 12.00pm on Sunday, Rohingya people were supposed to gather at least at eight places inside the camps for the ‘Go Home’ campaign. Meanwhile, Rohingyas of the 11 camps in Teknaf were supposed to gather on four separate spots. There are about 350,000 Rohingyas living inside the camps there. The current number of the registered Rohingya residents in 34 camps of Ukhiya and Terknaf is 1.2 million.
Md Naimul Haque, superintendent of police and captain of 14 Armed Police Battalion (APBN), which is in-charge of security in the camps of Ukhiya, said that Rohingyas of 25 camps in Ukhiya have been given permission to gather on eight different spots.
Maximum 300 Rohingyas can gather in a single meeting. Law and order agencies are active so that the peace and order situation is not disrupted.
To make the ‘Go Home’ campaign successful several hundred Rohingyas gathered in a meeting on a hill of Ukhiya’s Balukhali camp on Saturday morning. Some of the elderly Rohingya citizens described the terrifying experiences of five years back. Apart from that, different issues including Rohingyas returning to Myanmar, gaining citizenship, future of the genocide case filed against Myanmar by Gambia etc. were discussed in the meeting.
Rohingya leaders say, Mohib Ullah isn’t there anymore, but his followers feel the urge to return home. Common Rohingyas have taken the ‘Go Home’ programme to grab the attention of international community including Bangladesh in pressurising the junta government of Myanmar.
18 point demand
An 18 point demand including quickly starting the repatriation of Rohingya citizens, providing Rohingyas with the citizenship of that country etc. was supposed to be forwarded from the gathering at the camps.
Talking to Rohingya leaders it was found that, some of their main demands are quick start of the repatriation of Rohingya people and Rohingyas being recognised as the citizens of Myanmar.
Other demands include, Rohingyas have to called ‘Rohingyas’ not Bengalis, they cannot be kept for a long period of time at the transit camps of Myanmar during the repatriation, every Rohingya has to be repatriated to their motherland, Rohingyas cannot be accused as terrorists, unconditional chance for international media to visit Rakhine state, cancelation of the 1982 citizenship law, abandoned property of the Rohingyas have to be returned, shrimp and fish farming-lands have to be returned to them and justice for the Rohingya killing and genocide.
However, it has has been kept confidential as to details of the gathering and which leaders will be announcing these demands.
Md Naimul Haque, captain of 14 Armed Police Battalion (APBN) said, law and order agencies are strictly positioned inside the camps to keep the law and order situation under control.