First Rohingya family repatriated to Myanmar: government

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An advance copy of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' report to the Security Council, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, says worldwide medical staff and others in Bangladesh have documented that numerous nearly 700,000 Rohingya who fled from Myanmar "bear the physical and psychological scars of brutal assault".

"Since the family did not enter Bangladesh, their return can not be considered repatriation".

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed a repatriation plan in January but its start has been repeatedly delayed as both sides blame the other for lack of preparation.

According to the Rohingya Blogger, however, the individuals in the photos are the family members of the administrator of Taung Pyo Latya, the designated entry point for returning refugees. The United States government and the United Nations describe the violence against the Rohingya as "ethnic cleansing".

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The stateless Muslim minority has been massing in squalid Bangladesh camps since the Myanmar army launched a ruthless crackdown on the community in northern Rakhine state last August. The Rohingya family had been living in a camp erected on a patch there [between the two countries].

The family members were scrutinized by immigration and health ministry officials and the social welfare, relief and resettlement ministry provided them with "materials such as rice, mosquito netting, blankets, t-shirt, longyis (Burmese sarong) and kitchen utensils", said the government in the statement.

The pictures also show the family - one man, two women and a young girl and boy - receiving controversial national verification cards, which Rohingya activists have rejected, saying they are a way to deny Rohingya people citizenship.

"I hope, Myanmar will repatriate all the families within the possible shortest time", the home minister said.

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It comes despite warnings from the United Nations that Myanmar is not ready for their return.

Myanmar has denied almost all allegations, saying it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.

Separately, Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) told AFP that the repatriation announcement is "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine State".

"The widespread threat and use of violence was integral to this strategy, serving to humiliate, terrorise and collectively punish the Rohingya community, as a calculated tool to force them to flee their homelands and prevent their return", Guterres said.

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"UNHCR considers that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns to be safe, dignified, and sustainable". The latest confirmed departure took place on Thursday.

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