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10,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar Landed in Bangladesh to escape increasing Violence by Buddhist majority in the Country, says UN Report

The Bangladeshi authorities stated that they were permitting certain vulnerable refugees to enter the country on a humanitarian basis

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Displaced Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Wikimedia.
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Dec 8, 2016: More than 10,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed borders from Myanmar into Bangladesh to escape the increasing violence over the past two months, said a UN official and a Rohingya community leader. The Bangladeshi authorities stated that they were permitting certain vulnerable refugees to enter the country on a humanitarian basis.

Earlier, the southeastern border with Myanmar was sealed and hundreds of refugees were not allowed to cross the border in spite of reports of killings and the burning of Rohingya households in the nearby Rakhine state during a government crackdown.

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This is the largest evacuation into Bangladesh from Rakhine since 2012, when thousands of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority migrated into its neighbouring country to flee from the violence between the Rohingyas and the Buddhist majority.

“Based on reports by various humanitarian agencies, we estimate that there could be 10,000 new arrivals in recent weeks”, a spokeswoman in for the U.N. refugee agency’s office in Bangkok Vivian Tan, said on Wednesday.

Hafez Ahmed, a leader of unregistered Rohingya in Kutupalang Camp in Cox’s Bazar, a district in southeastern Bangladesh, told Benar news that the actual number of refugees could be double than the figure given by the UN. Around 10,000 of the new refugees were sheltered at his camp and the rest were spread out in the south-east.

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Mohammad Shaker, a Rohingya leader in Cox’s Bazar stated that “The Rohingya have been seeking temporary shelter in Bangladesh only to save their lives from a genocide-like situation in Myanmar. For most of us, life as refugees is very hard in Bangladesh. Arakan (Rakhine), where our Rohingya community has lived for centuries, is our ancestral homeland. We want to go back to Arakan.”

The crisis

Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister told reporters last week that the Rohingya Muslims had started to enter the country by inaccessible and remote borders after the Myanmar military starts repression in Rakhine in October.

He also said that some extremely vulnerable cases were allowed to enter and were provided with food and treatment as they could not ignore them from a humanitarian point of view.

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Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Bangladesh wanted the Rohingyas to return to their homes in Rakhine. He also said that, “We shall try to host these people as long as possible. Then we shall start a dialogue with Myanmar so that they can return to their home. We hope Myanmar will take them back, eventually”.

Bangladeshi officials complained to the Myanmar ambassador about the violence in Rakhine last week which resulted in street protests Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand against Myanmar’s alleged persecution of Rohingya by Muslims.

The long existing problem

The Rohingya Muslims have been a target for violence since 1978 and have been escaping into Bangladesh and other countries and around 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingyas are residing in Bangladesh currently according to the government.

Mohammad Ismail, a 38-year-old Rohingya told VOA that, “After the Rakhine Buddhists burned my house, with my two children and wife I fled to Bangladesh four years ago. I do odd day-wage jobs to support my family. Often I go without a job. I live in a ramshackle shack and I think I can never escape this life of poverty here”. He also said that he had his own farmland and also owned a shop and if the situations change he would return to Arakan.

Investigations

According to RFA, Myanmar’s former ruling party and 12 political parties met with the country’s National Defense and Security Council over the government’s management of the Rohingya crisis in North Rakhine.

The Myanmar government denied allegations that since the lockdown soldiers had committed rape, arson and extrajudicial killings in Rohingya. According to RFA, the state media reported that the security forces have taken more than 400 people into custody and around 70 have been killed.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

 

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Violence And Intimidation Directed Towards Rohingyas In Bangladesh Camps

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies.

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Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The failed attempt to send thousands of Rohingya back to Myanmar starting this month has drawn attention to alleged violence and intimidation by security forces against members of the Muslim minority living in Bangladesh’s sprawling refugee camps.

Bangladesh has boosted its international reputation by hosting more than 730,000 Rohingya who fled a vicious campaign by Myanmar’s military last year that U.N. investigators have labelled genocide – an accusation Myanmar has consistently denied.

But Bangladesh appears keen to demonstrate that Rohingya refugees will not be welcome there indefinitely. The planned repatriations sparked fear and chaos last week as Rohingya went into hiding – and in a handful of reported cases attempted suicide – to avoid being sent back.

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Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Meanwhile, allegations of sporadic beatings, looting and intimidation by Bangladeshi soldiers, police and camp officials have underscored the bleak conditions faced by Rohingya in their host country, where most are denied official refugee status and face restrictions on freedom of movement.

The repatriation of some 2,000 refugees was scheduled to begin last Thursday, but Bangladesh has now put the plans on hold until next year after failing to find any Rohingya willing to go back.

Rohingya in the camps have told VOA that soldiers were stationed near the homes of those who were told they would be sent back last week, fueling fears of forced repatriation and adding to widespread distress in communities already suffering extreme trauma after last year’s violence.

One Rohingya man told VOA anonymously that block leaders in the camps were also “announcing with loudspeakers… that it’s essential for everyone to carry ID with them whenever and wherever they go if they leave their homes.”

Late last month, security forces looted property from Rohingya shopkeepers at the Balukhali camp, said John Quinley, a human rights specialist with the non-profit organization Fortify Rights.

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Rohingya refugees walk under rain clouds on June 26, 2018, in Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

“Right now the security forces are operating in the camps with total impunity,” he said.

In another case earlier this month, Fortify Rights reported that security forces rounded up 18 Rohingya leaders and slapped and hit some of them while telling them to instruct other refugees to cooperate with a new U.N.-backed project to provide them with “smart cards.”

Many Rohingya oppose the identity cards because they fear the information on them will be shared with the Myanmar government.

Bangladesh’s refugee, relief and repatriation commissioner, Abul Kalam, told VOA he was unaware of the allegations of violence but would follow up. “Generally, it is not acceptable that someone would apply force on or beat someone to do or not to do something,” he said.

Quinley called on the U.N.’s refugee agency to “do everything in their power to make sure that the Bangladeshi authorities are respecting human rights.”

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An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Spokesperson Caroline Gluck said the agency has notified the authorities of a “small number” of reports of violence related to the smart card project. The agency has “been following up with them to ascertain the circumstances of what happened,” she told VOA.

Officials have responded that the incidents were “not linked” to the smart card project, she said.

She added, “The new ID card will enable refugees to be better protected and will streamline access to assistance and services.”

Mohammed Sheikh Anwar, a Rohingya activist, told VOA the Bangladeshi government “needs to keep the lower-level authorities in check. There should be an accountability measure.”

“Committing violence against genocide survivors to make them agree to the authorities’ terms is not the solution,” he added.

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A Rohingya refugee woman draws water from a hand pump at a temporary shelter in New Delhi, India.

Last week a Rohingya man named Ata Ullah said he was beaten at the office of an official at the Chakmarkul camp, the Guardian reported, after he failed to provide the official with a list of refugees.

Ata Ullah said in a video circulated on social media that when he couldn’t provide the official with a list he “was beaten with a large stick… they stepped on my neck, I could not stand it.”

Also Read: Bangladesh Government Build a New Rohingya Camp

Human Rights Watch warned in a report in August that the Bangladeshi government was restricting access to basic services by resisting attempts by aid agencies and Rohingya refugees to “create any structures, infrastructure, or policies that suggest permanency.”

As a result, the report said, “refugee children do not go to school, but rather to ‘temporary learning centers,’ where ‘facilitators,’ not ‘teachers,’ preside over the classrooms. The learning centers are inadequate, only providing about two hours of instruction a day,” the report said. (VOA)