July 12, 2014
Thailand and Myanmar have agreed to ”facilitate the safe return” of 130,000 displaced Rohingya Muslims to their homeland, said a top Thai military official.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha further said on Friday that the issue of the Rohingya Muslims had been discussed with Myanmar’s Commander-in-chief of Defense Forces, General Min Aung Hlaing, in Bangkok this week.”
These people have been staying in temporary shelters with certain restrictions for a long time,” the general said, adding, “This has been a protracted problem. There are up to 130,000 displaced persons in nine temporary shelters in our country.”
The anti-Muslim violence by extremist Buddhists in Myanmar, widely referred to as ethnic cleansing, has driven an estimated 80,000 Rohingya Muslims to put out to sea since mid-2012.
The Thai general further said Thailand and Myanmar “will facilitate the safe return to their homeland.”
Some Rohingya Muslims have lived in the camps for up to 25 years.
Myanmar’s extremist Buddhists have recently attacked a Muslim restaurant, a school and a Muslim dormitory in the city of Mandalay with sticks and metal bars and set them on fire.
A large number of Muslims living in Myanmar’s second largest city have been unable to attend mosques for their prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, fearing new attacks by the radical Buddhist elements.
Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar account for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. They have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country’s independence in 1948.
The UN recognizes the Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state as one of the world’s most persecuted communities.