A delegation comprising of Heads of Missions and senior diplomats from the embassies of the nine ASEAN member states; China, India, and Bangladesh as well as the representatives from UNDP and UNHCR, visited Rakhine State from 10 to 11 September 2019.
On 10 September, they met with returnee Myanmarese Hindus, comprising of both men and women, who are one of the lucky ones to be back home from Bangladesh.
After Rohingya terrorist group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked the Myanmarese Hindu community, hundreds of them had to flee for their lives. The Rohingya terrorist group took to rapes, molestation, forced conversion, murders and abuse against the minuscule Hindu minority of Myanmar to strike terror in Myanmar.
The United Nations had earlier described the Rohingyas “as the most persecuted minority in the world.”
This delegation met with the 11 returnees from the Hindu community where the Myanmarese Hindus spoke of the terror they faced.
Ministry of Myanmar noted that the Myanmarese Hindus recounted the loss of lives and property and how they were forced to flee to Bangladesh due to the attacks by ARSA in August 2017 and ‘how they were repatriated back to Rakhine with the help of a Hindu religious leader from Rakhine State and the Indian government.’
Now, even after the return and the ordeal they went through, the Rohingya terrorist group ARSA is continuously threatening their lives forcing the Myanmarese Hindus to live under the protection of the security personnel. Myanmarese Hindus feel safe due to security personnel but desire to return to Maungdaw to lead normal lives, live freely, and be able to earn living on their own.
The Myanmarese government has assured the Myanmarese Hindus that houses for their resettlement are being readied in Maungdaw where they will surely pursue a free life and also be able to earn their own bread as several international agencies are working on this.
Muslims also return, speak out against ARSA
The empowered delegation also met with the ten members of the Muslim community who returned recently. The group spoke at length over the intimidation during their short stay in the camps and expressed fear over ARSA. They spoke about the repeated threats, killings, food shortages, schooling and healthcare difficulties in the camps in Bangladesh.
Muslim returnees checked for terror connections
The Muslim returnees to Rakhine were first cleared by the Myanmar immigration authorities. The government first ensured that they were citizens and had no ties with any terrorist groups. But the most astounding part is that these Muslims have also been threatened by ARSA via social media hence, they cannot go to their original dwellings.
The Rakhine State Minister for Security and Border Affairs said that 6 more people out of 20,000 who have listed to return under the agreement between the two countries, arrived back at the Taung Pyo Let Wei reception center on the morning of 11 September.
Japan is also taking an active interest in the safety of the Myanmarese Hindus and Ichiro Maruyama, Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar visited Maungdaw, Buthitaung in Rakhine State late last month to understand the ‘real’ situation of the returnee Hindus. The Japanese Ambassador spoke to the 12 Hindu returnees face to face and assured that the Japanese embassy will provide advice and also and coordinate efforts with the UN agencies for the returnees.
As per the Myanmar Census 2014 Report on Religion, there were 252,763 (0.5%) Hindus in the nation. The largest number of Hindus, 100,166 (2.0% of Region’s enumerated population) lives in Bago Region (southern-central part of the country), while a mere 106 Hindu people live in the Chin State in western Myanmar.
Myanmar demands Bangladesh to return Myanmarese Hindus
Union Minister U Kyaw Tin, at the beginning of September, cited ARSA as a major obstacle for repatriation of the Myanmarese Hindus when he met with the UNSG Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw.
During this meeting, Tin had cited ARSA’s continued threat to those wishing to voluntarily return to Myanmar as major obstacle for repatriation and requested her assistance for the successful and safe return of 444 Myanmarese Hindus who were stuck in Bangladesh despite trying their best to return to Myanmar, their homeland.
Myanmar has long accused Bangladesh of not taking steps for the safe return of Myanmarese Hindus.