Abdullah Juberee . Teknaf
Demonstrations by people living in areas around refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday marked the observance of World Refugee Day with a demand for the repatriation of Myanmar citizens and steps not to let any more Myanmar citizens in Bangladesh.
An organisation of the Bengalis having blessings of ruling Awami League leaders, Movement for Repatriation of Rohingyas and Resistance against their Penetration, brought out a procession outside the Kutupalang refugee camp in the morning in support of the government’s latest stand on the Rohingya issue and with a call on international communities to pressure the Myanmar government to stop sectarian violence there.
Later at a news conference in a restaurant outside the refugee camp, the organisation accused the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees of acting against the interest of Bangladesh and delaying the repatriation of the refugees.
It also demanded a ban on activities of six NGOs, including Muslim Aid, Médecins Sans Frontières, Holland and Action Contre la Faim which, they said, were harming Bangladesh’s interest.
It also demanded the realisation of compensation from Myanmar for economic and environmental damage of Cox’s Bazar caused by the refugees.
The organisation’s convener Hamidul Haque Chowdhury said that the international axis and a certain quarter in Bangladesh were much vocal for refugees on the excuse of humanity but all of them were forgetting the sufferings of the local people.
‘This is not done. They are pressuring Bangladesh to open its border but are saying nothing to Myanmar, which is killing people,’ he said.
Although it was World Refugee Day, there was no programme in the refugee camps. Many of the camp inmates told journalists who visited the Nayapara refugee camp in Teknaf that they were no more willing to stay in camps and compared it with a jail without high boundary walls.
‘We need to stay inside the camp and are not allowed to move anywhere. It is nothing but a open-air jail,’ said Hossain who came to Bangladesh in 1992.
He said that it was true that the inmates were getting food and shelter and some other facilities, including primary education and healthcare. ‘Even then, this is not what we can call life. No one can live such a life for two decades,’ he added.
The inmates were seriously concerned about the fate of their family and relatives on the other side of border. ‘News of killing, burning of houses, loot, rape keeps coming in every day,’ said Abdus Salam.
Asked whether he would go back to Myanmar, he said, ‘Are you mad?’ But he hopes that peace would prevail in his motherland one day and the families could be reunited there.
Mohammad Yusuf was 24 years old when he came to the camp in 1992 along with his parents and now he is 45. He said that his three step-mothers and six bothers and sisters were still in the Buchidong town. ‘Yesterday I heard that they had taken away my uncle and nobody knows what happened to him.’
Meanwhile, the Border Guard Bangladesh on Wednesday sent back 12 more Myanmar citizens as they tried to enter Bangladesh through Teknaf from Maungdaw.
Among them, two were sent back on Tuesday night and the rest 10 were sent back on Wednesday noon.
Border guards stopped a boat carrying two Myanmar citizens trying to enter Bangladesh through Najirpara in Teknaf about 8:30pm and sent them back instantly.
According to the police, on a tip-off, they raided a house and arrested four Myanmar citizens, including one woman, at Hnila of Teknaf on Tuesday about 9.00pm, inspector (investigation) Swapan Kumar Majumdar said.
‘These four Myanmar citizens are from Maungdaw area of Myanmar and they somehow secretly reached ashore,’ said the inspector who failed to say when the Rohingyas entered Bangladesh.
About 5.00am, BGB men arrested three Myanmar citizens and a Bangladeshi in boat when they were trying to enter Bangladesh crossing the River Naf. They tried to enter through Naityangpara of Teknaf with the help of the Bangladeshi , Nur Faisal, BGB officials said. The border guards handed Nur over to the police.
Three more Myanmar citizens in a boat managed to enter Bangladesh but were arrested by BGB men near the Teknaf border about 7.00am. The BGB still has 13 more Rohingyas while Coast Guard has a family of five.
The commanding officer of the 42 BG battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Zahid Hassan, said, ‘We tried to send back the 18 intruders, all from Sittwe, in the morning but failed to do so as the sea was rough.’
He said that the situation in Maungdaw had improved while raids by the Myanmar army in the Rakhine state also stopped two days ago.