Returning Rohingya may lose land, crops under Myanmar plans

Returning Rohingya may lose land, crops under Myanmar plans
Sun Oct 22, 2017 14:09:59

Rohingya Muslims who return to Myanmar after fleeing to Bangladesh are unlikely to be able to reclaim their land, and may find their crops have been harvested and sold by the government, according to officials and plans seen by Reuters.

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya have crossed the border since Aug. 25, when coordinated Rohingya insurgent attacks on security posts sparked a ferocious counteroffensive by the Myanmar army.

The United Nations says killings, arson and rape carried out by troops and ethnic Rakhine Buddhist mobs since late August amount to a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has no control over the military, has pledged that anyone sheltering in Bangladesh who can prove they were Myanmar residents can return.

Reuters has interviewed six Myanmar officials involved with repatriation and resettlement plans. While the plans are not yet finalised, their comments reflect the government's thinking on how Suu Kyi's repatriation pledge will be implemented.

Jamil Ahmed, who spoke to Reuters at a refugee camp in Bangladesh, is one of many Rohingya who hope to go back.

Describing how he fled his home in northern Rakhine state in late August, Ahmed said one of the few things he grabbed was a stack of papers - land contracts and receipts - that might prove ownership of the fields and crops he was leaving behind.

"I didn't carry any ornaments or jewels," said the 35-year-old. "I've only got these documents. In Myanmar, you need to present documents to prove everything."

The stack of papers, browning and torn at the edges, may not be enough, however, to regain the land in Kyauk Pan Du village, where he grew potatoes, chilli plants, almonds and rice.

 

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