Myanmar making final plans for repatriation

A police officer guards near a burnt down house during violence in Maungdaw northern Rakhine state Myanmar

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Before the start of repatriation process for Rohingya refugees back to Rakhine state expected to begin next week, hundreds of Rohingya protested Friday, demanding citizenship and guarantees of security.

A Rohingya woman carrying two children as she crosses from Myanmar into Bangladesh in the town of Teknaf past year.

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh on Saturday asked for guarantees that their safety and security would be protected and that they would be granted Myanmar citizenship before being repatriated to Rakhine state.

The statement said there had been "no change of attitude of the Burmese government and its military toward Rohingya".

But the United Nations and rights groups are raising grave concerns about the repatriation process.

Several humanitarian organisations have repeatedly denounced the agreement on the grounds that conditions are not yet safe enough for the Rohingyas to return to Myanmar where some recent refugee arrivals have reported that the attacks were still ongoing.

In a meeting that took place in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw on Tuesday, the two countries agreed that Bangladesh would establish five transit camps close to the border between the two countries, from which returnees would be received initially in two reception centers on the Myanmar side.According to Myanmar's Foreign Ministry, Myanmar would shelter the returnees in a temporary accommodation at the 124-acre Hla Pho Khung camp near Maungdaw township, which can accommodate 30,000 people in its 625 buildings.

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The Rohingya want the Myanmar government to return the land they occupied rebuild their homes, mosques and schools. Refugees have fled into Bangladesh with accounts of mass killings, systematic rape and torching of villages at the hands of the military and local vigilantes.

The violence in the Rakhine state in Myanmar erupted on August 25, after a militant attack got security forces conducting a violent crackdown in the state. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country in which Rohingya Muslims represent only a small fraction of the overall population.

"Repatriated Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh will never be able to settle down in their own ancestral lands and villages, rather than spending not only the rest of their lives but also the lives of their next generations to come in those concentration camps", the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) said in a statement on Twitter.

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Many Rohingya have expressed fears about going back to Burma.

The commission proposed addressing the rights of Rohingyas to resolve sectarian violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, including measures such as speeding up the verification process for citizenship and granting citizenship by naturalisation.

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