Rohingya refugees mark first Eid in camps since Myanmar crackdown

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: As Muslims around the world celebrated Eid with feasting and gift-giving, Rohingya refugees in squalid Bangladesh camps marked the festival on Saturday with a peaceful demonstration demanding justice and dignified repatriation.
For the hundreds of thousands of the Muslims who have fled neighbouring Myanmar since an army crackdown last August, this is the first Eid al Fitr they have spent in the cramped tent cities.
Rahim Uddin, a 35-year-old refugee, said that the holiday, which marks the end of Ramadhan, was different this year.
“But God be praised, at least we have a peaceful place to stay and celebrate. We can go to the mosques without any interruption,” he said in the vast Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar district.
The camp’s mosques were full on Saturday morning as refugees prayed for safety from flash floods and sudden landslides that they fear could be triggered by monsoon rains. They then exchanged embraces.
Later, as children roamed around in new clothes and enjoyed merry-go-round rides and other entertainment, hundreds of refugees staged an hour-long protest, a common occurrence in the camps.
Holding banners and placards, the demonstrators shouted slogans demanding Rohingya citizenship, dignified repatriation to Myanmar and security from the United Nations.
Community leader Mohammad Mohibullah said they want the UN to “include a Rohingya representative in the repatriation agreement” procedure. About 700,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh since the crackdown that the UN and the US say amounted to “ethnic cleansing”, joining those who had fled earlier violence in mainly Buddhist Myanmar. — AFP