Myanmar's plan to repatriate Rohingya who fled the country from persecution fails to address the country's mistreatment of the Muslim minority, The New York Times said.
In an opinion piece, the Time's editorial board said the Rohingya should be able to return to their homes in Myanmar, however, "simply pushing them back across the border" is not the right way.
"Nobody asked the Rohingya about the repatriation plan, and they understandably panicked when Bangladesh troops entered their camp and told the first group of 2,200 to get ready to move," the board wrote Thursday. "With one voice, young and old alike shouted, 'We won’t go!'"
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.
"The plight of the Rohingya ranks among the worst injustices in the world today," the board wrote.
The newspaper also criticized Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her role in the persecution of the Rohingya.
"The Myanmar government, including the once-respected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has denied any culpability, invoking ancient grievances and skewed history to justify treating the Rohingya as Muslim interlopers in a predominantly Buddhist land," it added.
Many different rights group, along with the UN, objected to the plan to repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar, saying conditions were not met and it could put the lives of the Muslim minority at risk.
UNICEF noted an “overwhelming majority” of the refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar were reluctant to be repatriated unless their safety was ensured.
Last week, the Bangladeshi government halted the first scheduled Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar following protests by more than 700,000 refugees.
"No, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the world does not need your 'explanations,' nor repatriation schemes that fail to address the mistreatment of the Rohingya and give them assurances that they can rebuild their burned-out homes and live in security and dignity," the board wrote.