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06/20/2022 Bangladesh (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday, on June 19, Rohingya refugees staged large protests in Bangladesh. Tens of thousands of the roughly 34 million Rohingyas in southeast Bangladesh showed up to demonstrate peacefully in “Go Home” marches and rallies. In 2017 the Rohingyas were forced to flee ethnic persecution committed against them by the military in Myanmar. Now, they demand the opportunity to return home after five years. Fleeing persecution in Myanmar, they have continued to face hardships in Bangladesh. The Rohingya refugee camps have poor sanitation, little to no educational access, and no jobs for their inhabitants. Yesterday, a Rohingya community leader said, “We don’t want to stay in the camps. Being a refugee is not easy. It’s hell. Enough is enough. Let’s go home.”

Authorities in Bangladesh allowed these refugee protests to take place ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, but in recent years, authorities have increasingly restricted rallies and marches because of a Rohingya protest of 100,000 that took place in August 2019. Yesterday’s momentary freedom of assembly accompanies broader positive developments for the Rohingyas. The foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and Myanmar held their first meeting in three years by video conference last week. Discussing the meeting, an anonymous Bangladesh Foreign Ministry official told AFP, “We are hopeful the repatriation will start after the monsoon this year, at least on a limited scale.” While previous repatriation attempts have failed because of Myanmar’s intransigence, perhaps some Rohingyas will have the chance to return to their homes in the near future.

This is good news for the minority of Christians among the Rohingya population. These Christians have faced persecution not only from the Myanmar government but also from the Bangladesh government and their own Muslim fellow Rohingyas. We pray that Rohingya Christian refugees will find respite from the persecution threatening them from all sides.

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