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Bangladesh Forcibly Sends Back 90 Rohingya Migrants Despite Violence

Police intercepted a group of 70 Rohingya after they crossed the 'zero line' border zone

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Rohingya refugees collect aid supplies including food and medicine, sent from Malaysia, at Kutupalang Unregistered Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Feb. 15, 2017, VOA
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Aug 28, 2017: Ninety Rohingya migrants have been detained and forcibly returned just hours later and Myanmarese troops on the opposite side of the border had opened fire on people leaving the country, said Police on Sunday.

Police stopped a group of 70 Rohingya after they passed the “zero line” border zone.

Local police chief Abul Khaer said, The villagers were caught approximately four km within Bangladeshi territory on the way to a refugee camp in Kutupalong, where thousands of Rohingya live in a poor state.

“All 70 were detained and later pushed back to Myanmar by the border guards,” Mr. Khaer told AFP.

Police said some of the detained Rohingya had entered Bangladesh through the Ghumdhum border area, where the Myanmar forces released the attack of fire a few hours earlier.

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

One policeman on condition of anonymity said, “They were pleading with us not to send them back to Myanmar.”

According to Ariful Islam, a commander with Border Guard Bangladesh(BGB), another group of 20 Rohingya were caught on Sunday and returned after traversing the Naf river, a border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Another border officer, Manzurul Hassan Khan, said that across the border in Rakhine, which is also the breeding ground for religious hatred, a new gunfire could be overheard.

More than hundred people have expired since Friday as numbers of men allegedly from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army(ARSA) surrounded Myanmar police stations with guns, homemade explosives, and knives, annihilating not less than a dozen members of security forces.

Around thousands of Rohingya have retreated towards Bangladesh with an undefined number of people — mostly women and children grounded in the border zone, but officials there have rejected to invade them.

The poverty-stricken country already treats about 400,000 Rohingya refugees.

Abdur Rahman, who is a senior government official told AFP that “Officials in Cox’s Bazar, the district bordering Myanmar, have been directed not to pass any “illegal entry” by Rohingya.”

However, at least 3,000 Rohingya refugees have entered the country as refugees since Friday despite massive border protection.

“They fired so close that I cannot hear anything now,” Mohammad Zafar,70, told about armed Buddhists who shot dead his two sons in a field.

“They came with rods and sticks to drive us to the border yelling, ‘Bengali bastards,'” Zafar told AFP.

Rahima Khatun told AFP, she spent the night lurking in the hills after Buddhists in her settlement ablaze Rohingya home.

“We grew up with them. I can’t figure out how they could be so merciless,” she told AFP.

Despite ages of oppression, the Rohingya extensively abstained from violence.

Although in October, ARSA ambushed a sequence of Myanmar border stations, that left some people dead and drove 87,000 scores to decamp to Bangladesh.

Northern Rakhine was shadowed by disorder since then, with civilians ambushed between militants and security forces.

In Rakhine only, the freshest victims are the six members of a Hindu family. Bullet-riddled bodies of a woman and three were found on Sunday.


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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, Violence
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.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
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.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
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.”

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
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.

Rohingya, myanmar, violence
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)