With the advent of Thursday morning, it had become clear that the Bangladesh government has not initiated measures to send back refugees forcibly. The government had earlier repeatedly stated that no Rohingya will be forced to leave for Myanmar against their will. Despite such assurances, a hastily prepared list of hundreds of families raised an outcry with many Rohingya activists fearing the worst. At least three refugees attempted suicide while hundreds fled to the hills, fearing they were to be sent back forcibly.
While buses and Bangladesh security personal arrived in the Unchi Prang camp in the morning to load them with refugees whose names were on the list, they were greeted with hundreds of protesting Rohingyas who stated their unwillingness to go back to their homeland as long as they were not given citizenship and the Tatmadaw led forces remained in control of the area. Concerned officials responded by saying that Bangladesh never intended to send any refugee back against their will. The matter was later cleared up in an official statement by the Bangladesh Foreign Minister AHM Ali in a statement on Thursday night.
International observers have stated that the ground situation in Arakan is not conductive to the safe return of the minority Muslim community. The Bangladesh government has responded by stating they will leave it up to the official UN agency (UNHCR) to determine if any of the Rohingyas are willing to go back willingly.
Many Rohingya refugees interviewed have said it is better to die in the refugee camps of Bangladesh rather than in the hands of the Myanmar security forces who had carried out an ethnic cleansing operation last year killing at least 25,000 Muslims including women and children, driving out the bulk of the population over the border.
Most Rohingya activists maintain that the population wants to return to their homeland in Arakan as soon as there is a safe atmosphere for the much persecuted Muslim community. They however agree that a protected return to a protected homeland is not possible as long as the Burmese security forces maintain ultimate authority in North West Arakan.
Bangladesh is facing increasing domestic pressure as the resource strained and overpopulated country struggles with more than a million Rohingya refugees.