Coronavirus obliges, an anniversary of the purification of the Rohingya without commemorations

Rohingyas in the Kutupalong refugee camp, August 25, 2020. Munir Uz zaman / AFP

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This August 25 was a day of mourning and commemoration in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh, for the third anniversary of an ethnic cleansing that drove hundreds of thousands of members of this Muslim community from its native lands in 2017. But , Covid obliges, no tribute ceremony could take place, unlike in previous years.


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Neither demonstrations nor prayers in the mosques: the “day of remembrance of the genocide” will have been very silent in the Rohingya camps of Cox's Bazar where nearly a million refugees live in misery and without much hope of being able to return home, in Burma. Fears that the coronavirus pandemic could spread further got the better of the commemorations.

To mark this third anniversary despite everything, Rohingya officials called on the inhabitants of the camps to remain cloistered at home in their makeshift shelters. The stalls and tea stands, usually crowded, remained closed.

Return to the deadlocked country

This day of mourning commemorates August 25, 2017, when the Burmese army and Buddhist militias began a vast ethnic cleansing, in response to attacks by a Rohingya rebel group.

Their houses burned down, their wives raped, 750,000 members of this Muslim community had to flee their native land to join the some 200,000 other Rohingyas already settled in neighboring Bangladesh. To encourage them to return, Bangladesh signed an agreement with Burma. But the Rohingyas refuse this return, which is too dangerous in their eyes.

► See also: The return of the Rohingyas to Burma still at an impasse

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  • Bangladesh
  • Burma
  • Rohingya
  • Coronavirus

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