Buddhists are the majority in the western state of Rakhine, which is also home to minority Rohingya Muslims.
Bangladesh has counted more than a million Rohingya refugees living in camps near the border with Myanmar, higher than previous estimates, the head of its registration project said Wednesday as preparations for their return got under way.
More than 650,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched a brutal crackdown in August following attacks on police posts by a militant group.
"The agreement stigmatizes the Rohingya people as would-be terrorists and includes unrealistic demands that these people, who fled for their lives with no possessions, show proof of residency to the very government that denied them of their citizenship, making it hard for them to believe that they will be protected upon returning home". Myanmar's army described it as "clearance operations" against terrorists, but the UN and the United States have called it "ethnic cleansing". Organizers did not seek approval from local authorities for the gathering, he said. We really wish to go back to our land.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also insisted on safe and voluntary return of Rohingya refugees.
Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to requests for comment.
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Bangladeshi authorities recognized some over 30,000 Rohingyas as refugees shortly before the onset of the latest round of crisis.
Since the November agreement, Myanmar's civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to take measures to halt the outflow of Rohingya to Bangladesh and restore normalcy in the Rakhine region.
"Without investigation, transparency, and accountability for crimes against the Rohingya, any discussion of repatriation is a nonstarter". Zaw Htay said at least 500 Hindus and 500 Muslims will be in the first group to return.
"Where are considerations for protection of the Rohingya from Myanmar security forces who months ago were raping and killing them?" said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the group's Asia Division.
In an interview on Thursday, Aye Maung told the Irrawaddy online news journal from custody that he had heard he would be charged for treason, and instead called for issues such as freedom of expression and the fundamental rights of citizens to be discussed in parliament, to address public concerns.