LOS ANGELES: Rohingya Hindus who sought refuge in Bangladesh want to return to Myanmar but are not being allowed by Bangladesh officials to go back, according to the Los Angeles Times. In a report from Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, the newspaper said 105 Hindu families were ready to leave when a deal was made by the United Nations in May for refugees to return home to Rakhine state in Myanmar.
But they are stranded in Bangladesh because their return home was canceled when the UN decided it was not safe for refugees to go back to Myanmar, Hindu refugees were quoted as telling the newspaper. The paper said that Hindu families have appealed to the Indian government for help, but have so far received only humanitarian aid.
The newspaper quoted Shishu Sheel, a 32-year-old leader in the refugee camp for Hindus, as saying, “India is a land for all Hindus. Mr. (Narendra) Modi (the prime minister) is a Hindu. Why is he not helping us?"
The Hindus were victims of the Arkan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Muslim organisation led by the Pakistan-born Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi, and fled to Bangladesh as it was the only escape available to them, the newspaper said.
Unlike the more than 700,000 Muslim refugees, the Hindus have Myanmar citizenship, the newspaper said. The newspaper said that the Bangladesh’s Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission has ruled out repatriating only the Hindus, and not the Muslims, whose return the UN has determined is unsafe.
The exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh began in August 2017 when ARSA attacked security posts in Myanmar and the security forces and vigilantes retaliated killing hundreds of Muslims and destroying their villages. UN has condemned the security forces' response to the ARSA attacks disproportionate and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called it ethnic cleansing.
However, the Hindus were attacked by ARSA unlike the Muslim refugees who were victims of security forces and Myanmarese vigilantes, the newspaper said. The global human rights organisation Amnesty International that verified the ARSA attacks said in a report last May that 99 Hindu children, women and men were massacred.
The 400 Hindu refugees in Bangladesh are segregated and housed in a separate facility called Hindu Camp, which is under round-the-clock security, The Los Angeles Times said.