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EXTRA 49/92 Fear of Refoulement 14 May 1992
BANGLADESH/MYANMAR: Burmese Muslim refugees in Bangladesh
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at announcements made by the Government
of Bangladesh that on 15 May 1992 it intends to begin the repatriation of some of
the 250,000 Burmese Muslim refugees, sometimes known as Rohingyas, who have fled
to Bangladesh from the Rakhine (Arakan) State of Myanmar. Amnesty International
believes that refugees who are returned to Myanmar risk becoming victims of grave
human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial execution.
Over 100 refugees from the Rakhine State were interviewed by Amnesty International
during February and March 1992. They all said they had fled from their homes in
the Maungdaw and Buthidaung township areas of the Rakhine State to escape a wide
range of human rights violations at the hands of the Myanmar security forces, including
ill-treatment, deliberate killings, and arrests on religious and political grounds.
Many of these human rights violations occurred in the context of forced portering,
after Myanmar soldiers had forced Muslims to carry loads of ammunition or food or
to work on road and building projects for periods varying from a few days to several
months. These human rights violations are part of a general pattern of repression
by the Myanmar security forces against Muslims in the Rakhine State. Troops have
entered Muslim villages, occupied and closed mosques, confiscated farmers' livestock
and crops, seized villagers for forced labour, and evicted them from their houses.
According to recent press reports, 1,500 Muslim refugees were continuing to flee
to Bangladesh from Myanmar each day, indicating that this pattern of human rights
violations against the Muslim minority continues.
Reports of human rights abuses against Muslims in the Rakhine State by Myanmar security
forces rose sharply in early 1991, and they began to leave Myanmar in the thousands
to seek asylum in neighbouring Bangladesh. Those numbers increased dramatically
in late 1991 and early 1992, with some 250,000 now believed to be in Bangladesh.
Over half of these refugees are in 12 government-sponsored refugee camps, and the
rest are scattered throughout the border area. The United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as Western and Bangladeshi non-governmental
organizations, have access to the camps and have been providing aid to the refugees
together with the Bangladesh Government.
On 28 April 1992 the Bangladesh Government and the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), Myanmar's ruling military authority, signed a bilateral agreement