Bangladesh says it is ready to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Burma

Young Rohingya women queue for food at Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh in June

Vice President Mike Pence had strong words for Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a regional summit being held in Singapore, calling out her country's brutal military campaign against minority Rohingya Muslims and the imprisonment of two prominent journalists.

On Tuesday Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed made an unusually harsh public criticism of Ms Suu Kyi, saying that as a former political prisoner she should better understand suffering.

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from western Myanmar, UN agencies say, after Rohingya insurgent attacks on Myanmar security forces in August, 2017 triggered a sweeping military crackdown.

Days before a crucial United Nations meet on the Rohingya refugee crisis, Bangladesh on Tuesday said that the global community should increase pressure on Myanmar.

"So we are in a better position to explain to you what is happening, how we see things panning out". "I'm anxious to hear about the progress you're making in holding those accountable who are responsible".

Suu Kyi was brief in her remarks, saying each country knew their own situation best.

Bangladesh has vowed not to force anyone to return and it has asked the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to make sure those shortlisted to return really want to go back.

At the time of their arrest in December, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim villagers during an army crackdown in Rakhine state.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau say they are "deeply concerned" about a proposed repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar this month.

More news: Ottawa talking with Pakistan about bringing acquitted Christian to Canada

He told several reporters that the conflict between the Rohingya and Myanmar's government is not resolved, and "so many" Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine are flattened that there is no place to go back to.

Later this evening Ms Ardern meets China's Premier Li, with whom she plans to raise the renegotiation of the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement, as well as human rights and security issues in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the UN's human rights head warned that the sufferings of the persecuted Rohingya would increase if Bangladesh and Burma proceeded with their repatriation plans.

The announcement prompted human rights groups, aid agencies, and many governments to raise concern about safety issues for Rohingya back in Myanmar.

Bangladesh officials remain optimistic the large-scale refugee returns will start as planned Thursday.

After the meeting, senior US administration officials said Pence and Suu Kyi had discussed the importance of having Rohingya return home, but only on a voluntary basis, with safety and dignity.

A Rohingya refugee girl collects water from a tube-well at the Balikhali camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Nov. 14, 2018.

"These women, men and children would be sent back into the Myanmar military's grasp with no protection guarantees, to live alongside those who torched their homes and whose bullets they fled", Nicholas Bequelin from the rights group in a statement.

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