Myanmar is allegedly building around seven detention camps for the Rohingya refugees, who fled to Bangladesh and are expected to be repatriated following a verification process, the Human Rights Watch said on Monday. “The bigger concern at this point is the government’s apparent plan to create up to as many as seven camps for returning Rohingya… We’re concerned that these will become open air detention camps,” Phil Robertson, the Asia deputy director of the non-profit told Efe news, adding that it was also unclear how the verification process would be conducted. “The Myanmar government has said very little about what evidence they will demand to prove the person was residing in Myanmar and has the right to go back – and this may be problematic because many Rohingya have lost all their documents when their houses were torched by the Burmese security forces.” According to the UN, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, when the Myanmar Army launched a military offensive in Rakhine state after a group of Rohingya rebels launched a series of attacks on multiple government posts.
Robertson also warned that the camps might be used to limit the freedom of movement of the Rohingyas and restrict their access to basic necessities, including food, medical services and education. According to the Myanmar government, more than 400 people have died so far in the ongoing crisis. Myanmar and Bangladesh had signed an agreement for the return of the refugees in 1993 after a similar conflict had forced 250,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, but most of the displaced chose not to return.
More than one million Rohingya, who have been facing growing persecution since the outbreak of sectarian violence in 2012 that killed at least 160 people and confined 120,000 to resettlement camps, lived in Rakhine before the current crisis erupted. Myanmar denies citizenship to Rohingyas although many of them claim to have lived in the country for generations.