Naypyitaw, Burma, Aug 3, 2018 / 14:49 pm
The Rohingya, a long-suffering Muslim minority in Burma, are allegedly peacefully returning to their country from Bangladesh, where thousands fled last year after a surge of violence against them last year that the United Nations said might qualify as genocide.
At least, that is the story that the Burmese government would like the world to believe.
But a recent government-sponsored trip to Burma by New York Times journalist Hannah Beech and photographer Adam Dean revealed numerous holes in the official narrative of the Burmese government.
Burma is also known as Myanmar, a name which the U.S. government and many democracy activists oppose, because they say it was illegally imposed on the country by its military dictatorship.
While the Burmese government told journalists on the trip that the groups of people they were seeing were Rohingya peacefully returning to Burma after their exodus, hushed conversations with locals revealed that that was not the case.
“The men at one of the country’s three repatriation centers shook their heads when asked if they had peacefully come back to Myanmar from Bangladesh,” Beech wrote.
“They said they had not been repatriated at all. In fact, they said, they had never even left this waterlogged stretch of marsh and mountain in Myanmar, and had been swept up in the government’s broad repression of the Rohingya minority.”
“One day, last year, three of the men said, soldiers had arrested them in their village in northern Rakhine State. Five and a half months later, they were released and charged with illegal immigration,” Beech reported.