DHAKA, Bangladesh - Human Rights Watch has sharply criticized a plan to repatriate Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, claiming that it poses "grave risks" to their lives and liberty.
About a million Rohingya live in Bangladesh, most of whom fled a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar, which is now the subject of a United Nations genocide investigation.
Despite the UN's repeated warnings, the two countries plan to return approximately 1,100 people in a pilot project in the coming weeks.
"Bangladesh authorities should not forget why Rohingya fled in the first place and acknowledge that none of those factors have changed," HRW said.
"Bangladesh is tired of being a host country, but returning refugees to the control of a ruthless Myanmar junta will only set the stage for the next devastating exodus," the group said.
Bangladesh's refugee commissioner, Mizanur Rahman, denied any claims of coercing the Rohingya to return or failing to consult with them.
It added that 600,000 Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine state are confined to squalid camps and villages, leaving them vulnerable to extreme weather events such as Cyclone Mocha.
Earlier this month, 20 Rohingya visited two Rakhine resettlement camps where the military government intends to house them.
"We are not prepared to take even one step towards Myanmar." The arrangement they made for us is insufficient to ensure our safety. We have also received no justice for previous persecutions," said Hafiz Solaiman, 38.
"We have zero trust in the Myanmar government."