Hawzah News Agency (Dhaka, Bangladesh) - In one incident, Human Rights Watch said, six refugees returning to the troubled Rakhine state were apprehended and tortured during pre-trial detention before being sentenced to four years in prison for illegally crossing the border.
"The officers used stress positions; beatings with fists, sticks, and rods; and burning and electric shock to force them to confess to an affiliation with [the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army]. They said that while detained, they received inadequate clean water and food," the organization said, the Financial Times reported.
The report comes almost one year after a crackdown in Myanmar saw hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee to refugee camps in Bangladesh.
"The torture of Rohingya returnees puts the lie to Myanmar government promises that refugees who return will be safe and protected," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Despite Myanmar's rhetoric guaranteeing a safe and dignified return, the reality is that Rohingya who go back still face the persecution and abuses they were forced to flee."
Denied citizenship in their home country of Myanmar for decades, the Muslim minority was the target of a brutal campaign of violence by the military which culminated a year ago this week. A "clearance operation" led by Buddhist militia sent more than 700,000 Rohingya pouring over the border into Bangladesh, without passports or official ID.
The Myanmar government has agreed to take the Rohingya back, but are refusing to grant them citizenship. Many Rohingya do not want to return and face life without a home or an identity.