Rohingya camps buzzing with forceful repatriation rumours

Abdur Rahman, Teknaf
Published : 09:40, Aug 19, 2019 | Updated : 09:44, Aug 19, 2019

Shalbon Rohingya camp at Cox`s Bazar.The Rohingya camps at Cox’s Bazar are buzzing with rumours of forceful repatriation as the date of a possible repatriation of Aug 21 draws nearer.
Bangladesh and Myanmar has reportedly decided to launch a fresh attempt at repatriating the Rohingyas, allegedly driven out of their homeland in Rakhine as part of an ethnic cleansing.
Reuters reported on Aug 15 that Myanmar has agreed to take back over 3,500 Rohingyas while the Bangladesh government maintains that the entire process will be fully voluntary.
The sudden repatriation attempt has rattled the Rohingyas and rumours are circulating that they will be forced to go back to Myanmar where they fear they will be subjected to fresh torture.
Considering the atmosphere of confusion and fear prevalent in the camps, Rohingya leaders have called for dialogue regarding the process and also called on people to refrain from panicking.
The various camps in charge met with the Rohingyas living in Teknaf’s Jadimora Shalbon, Leda, Nayapara and few other camps on Sunday (Aug 18).
The Refugee, Relied and Rehabilitation commissioner assistants Khaled Hossain and Mohammad Ariful Zaman were present during the meeting.
“We met with the Rohingya leaders and heard about their problems. We have especially asked them to be careful so that no one can create panic by spreading rumours about the repatriation process,” Khaled Hossain told Bangla Tribune.
He added that they have been assured that the government will not be forcing anyone to go back.
Rohingya camp team leaders Bazlul Islam and Nur Boshor said that everyone is in fear about the sudden repatriation and demanded a transparent dialogue about the process.
“We trust the Bangladesh government but not United Nation’s refugee agency UNHCR. They are spreading various rumours regarding repatriation,” said a Rohingya leader wishing to remain anonymous.
“Since 2012, 180,000 Rohingyas have been imprisoned. They have not been freed. How will teh Rohingyas go back?” he added.
An NGO worker wishing to remain anonymous said that since the Shalban Rohingya camp is on a hilly area, there is always a fear of security.
“Many people here take refuge in other places during the evening, due to fear of robbers,” he said.
He added that the Rohingyas fear attack if they agree to return to Myanmar and said, “Besides there is a terrorist group beside the camp in the hills. They are mainly the ones spreading these rumours.”
“The camps in charge have directed everyone to ensure that no false information is spread regarding the repatriation,” said Teknaf Leda Rohingya camp development chief Mohammad Alam.
Meanwhile, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-15 Teknaf camp chief Mirza Shahed Mahtab said that security and surveillance has been beefed up in the camps.
“RAB members are regularly patrolling the camps,” he said and added that plainclothes law enforcers are working to take steps against those spreading rumours.