Further information on EXTRA 49/92 (ASA 13/05/92, 14 May) - Bangladesh / Myanmar: fear of refoulement: Burmese Muslim refugees in Bangladesh
EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 13/06/92
15 May 1992
SECTIONS ARE ASKED TO SEND UP TO FIVE FAXES/TELEXES EACH. PLEASE ALSO BRING
THIS ACTION TO THE ATTENTION OF THE REFUGEE COORDINATOR IN YOUR SECTION.
Further information on EXTRA 49/92 (ASA 13/05/92, 14 May 1992) - Fear of
BANGLADESH/MYANMAR: Burmese Muslim refugees in Bangladesh
The Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) are reported to have postponed
the repatriation to Myanmar from Bangladesh of Burmese Muslim refugees from
the Rakhine (Arakan) State, sometimes known as Rohingyas. The repatriation
was due to begin on 15 May 1992.
The decision to postpone the repatriation was taken after the Bangladesh police
opened fire on refugees from the Balukhali refugee camp, who were protesting
against the planned repatriation. Between one and three men were reportedly
killed, and six injured.
According to press reports, the demonstrators were demanding that the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) be fully involved in the
repatriation process, and that there be assurances for their safety on return
to Myanmar. At present, the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar
does not provide for the UNHCR to supervise the repatriation. The Government
of Myanmar has apparently rejected proposals for UNHCR supervision so far.
Indeed, the agreement does not provide any mechanisms at all to ensure that
only those refugees who volunteer are returned to Myanmar, that human rights
conditions have improved in Myanmar before any refugee is repatriated, or that
the the safety of those who return is monitored.
Muslim refugees continue to enter Bangladesh from the Rakhine State, apparently
fleeing from continuing gross human rights violations committed by the Myanmar
military. One thousand refugees are reported to have arrived in Bangladesh
from Myanmar on 14 May 1992 alone.
Officials of the Bangladesh and Myanmar Governments are due to meet again on
17 May 1992 for further discussions on repatriation.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes
- welcoming the news that the planned repatriation of Burmese Muslim refugees
has been postponed;
- urging that the Government of Bangladesh ensure that any future agreement
with the Government of Myanmar on the repatriation of Burmese Muslims contains
effective mechanisms, including the full participation of the UNHCR at all
stages of the repatriation as follows: to ensure that refugees who return have
made a genuinely voluntary decision to do so; that human rights conditions
in the Rakhine State have improved before any refugee is returned; and that
all returned refugees will be effectively protected from further violations;
page 2 of FU EXTRA 49/92...
- expressing concern that the Bangladesh police may have used excessive force
in opening fire on refugees demonstrating against the repatriation;
- urging that the incident be fully and impartially investigated, and that
the police are clearly instructed not to use lethal force in future, except
in life-threatening situations.
A S M Mustafizur Rahman
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Faxes: + 880 2 833 597; + 880 2 411 281
Telexes: 642200 PAMA BJ or 64222 PAMA BJ
[Salutation: Dear Minister]
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: diplomatic representatives of Bangladesh in your
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY TO ARRIVE IN BANGLADESH BY 19 MAY 1992.