The statement from Bangladesh, which has been providing shelter to over one million Rohingya Muslim refugees, comes hours after Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup against the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Rohingya refugees get off from a navy vessel as they arrive at the Bhasan Char island in Noakhali, Bangladesh, on December 29, 2020.
Rohingya refugees get off from a navy vessel as they arrive at the Bhasan Char island in Noakhali, Bangladesh, on December 29, 2020. (Reuters Archive)

Bangladesh has pressed Myanmar to continue efforts to repatriate Rohingya Muslim refugees after the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi in a bloodless coup.

Mainly Muslim Bangladesh has sheltered 1 million Rohingya who had fled violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most of them are denied citizenship by law.

A UN-backed repatriation process has failed to take off despite multiple attempts from Bangladesh, which has now started sending some refugees to an isolated island in the Bay of Bengal.

"We have been persistent in developing mutually beneficial relations with Myanmar and have been working with Myanmar for the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingya sheltered in Bangladesh," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Reuters in a statement.

"We expect these processes to continue in right earnest."

In August 2017, Myanmar's military launched an operation against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state in response to an attack by a militant group. The army burned down hundreds of villages to the ground and carried out mass killings and gang rapes. 

Some 700,000 Rohingyas fled from a military-led crackdown that UN investigators said was executed with "genocidal intent" – assertions that Myanmar denies. 

READ MORE: After ousting Suu Kyi, Myanmar military promises fresh elections

Military coup

Myanmar's military seized power on Monday in a coup against the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy party in early morning raids.

"We hope that the democratic process and constitutional arrangements will be upheld in Myanmar," Bangladesh said.

Suu Kyi's international reputation was damaged after she failed to stop the assault against the Rohingya from Rakhine State in 2017 and doubled down to defend the army's actions.

READ MORE: Bangladesh moves more Rohingya refugees to controversial island

Stuck between Myanmar and a remote island

The more than 700,000 Rohingyas who fled across the frontier in 2017 to Bangladesh added to 300,000 already in the camps.

Struggling with the squalid camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh has been sending Rohingya refugees to live on the remote Bhashan Char Island on the Bay of Bengal.

Some 7,000 Rohingya have been so far sent to the 53-sq km island.

The government has said about 100,000 people could be settled on Bhashan Char from the camps.

Rights groups say many of the Rohingya have been moved against their will and have also raised concerns over the safety of the island, which is regularly flooded during the cyclone season.

'No democratic future'

Rohingya in Bangladesh expressed fears for their people still in Myanmar following the military's ouster of Suu Kyi.

"She [Suu Kyi] was no good for us but there was still hope that through the democratic process we could achieve our rights. Now it seems Myanmar has no democratic future in the near term," a 31-year-old Rohingya told Reuters by telephone from a refugee camp, asking not to be named for fear of reprisal.

"We are very concerned ... Terrified about what’s going to happen to the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar," he said.

Dil Mohammed, a Rohingya leader in one of the camps, told Reuters: "We urge the global community to come forward and restore democracy at any cost." 

READ MORE: Rohingya: “We would rather die now than be kept here forever"

Source: TRTWorld and agencies