'Human rights groups have denounced as a publicity stunt a move by Myanmar's government announcing to have repatriated the first group of Rohingya refugees from among nearly 700,000 who fled a military crackdown to neighboring Bangladesh last year.
A statement posted on the official Facebook page of the Information Committee of Myanmar's government said that one family of the refugees was the first to be processed in newly-built reception centers earlier in the day.
"The five members of a family... came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine state this morning," the statement read.
Photos posted by the government showed one man, two women, a young girl and a boy receiving ID cards and getting health checks.
Immigration authorities provided the group with National Verification Cards, a form of ID that falls short of citizenship and has been rejected by many Rohingya leaders who want full rights before they return.
Rights groups have criticized the announcement as a publicity stunt and Bangladesh has distanced itself, saying the repatriation was not part of the return process the two countries have been trying to start.
Mohammad Abul Kalam, Bangladesh's refugee commissioner, said the Rohingya family had been living in a camp erected on a patch of "no man's land" between the two countries. "They were not under our jurisdiction, therefore, we cannot confirm whether there would be more people waiting to go back (to Myanmar)."
Andrea Giorgetta from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) also said the repatriation announcement is "a public relations exercise in an attempt to deflect attention from the need for accountability for crimes committed in Rakhine State."'
Read more: Myanmar's repatriation of Rohingya publicity stunt, rights groups say
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