Frightened and angry Rohingya refugees on Thursday forced Bangladesh to call off efforts to start sending back some of the hundreds of thousands of the stateless Muslims to Myanmar, casting fresh doubt on a disputed repatriation programme.
Hundreds staged a demonstration near the Myanmar border shouting “we will not go” on the day the first batch were due to be sent back.
More than 720,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh after a military crackdown in August 2017 that the UN has said calls for a genocide investigation.
Many brought horrific tales of murder, rape and razed villages and vowed never to return.
Not one of the first 150 Rohingya meant to cross back Thursday under an accord with Myanmar turned up nor wanted to return, acknowledged Bangladesh authorities, under pressure from the United Nations and aid groups.
Community leaders said many on a Bangladesh repatriation list of 2,260 people had gone into hiding.