In a major development, 1700 Rohingya refugees have been captured by the Bangladesh navy in Chittagong and taken to an isolated island far off
According to government officials, the refugees were on a 3-hour naval journey to Bhashan Char island in the Bay of Bengal.
Apparently, 5 naval ships carried these 1700 Rohingyas from Chittagong to this isolated island on Tuesday despite human rights groups protesting against this claiming that their safety will be compromised.
The official who revealed the details of the process said that the Rohingyas have been taken from their camps in Chittagong on Monday. They were put up in a temporary camp for their overnight stay before being transferred to the isolated island Bhashan Char.
While authorities say that the Rohingyas were under no pressure and willingly choose to be relocated, many human rights groups and activists claim that they were forcefully relocated 34 Kms away from the mainland. The alleged island is a newly surfaced uninhabited island that came up only 20 years ago. It regularly submerged during the monsoon rains before flood protection embankments were built. The Bangladesh navy has built houses, hospitals, and mosques on the island at a staggering expense of 112 million USD.
Island Specially Built for the Rohingyas
The island has facilities to accommodate more than 100,000 people. It’s specially built to hold the Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar in fear of persecution and have been living in refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar area of Chittagong.
However, the United Nations has expressed fear that this will put thousands of people in danger as big storms or other such natural calamities can destroy the island. The UN also said that the Rohingya should be given a chance to make an informed decision to relocate.
Despite calls from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to cancel the plan, the Bangladesh navy rehabilitated the first group of Rohingyas – about 1642 people on the island on December 4.
Rohingyas Satisfied With the Island
On Monday, Bangladeshi Cabinet Minister Obaidul Quader revealed that the Rohingyas were moved to the island as their Myanmar repatriation got delayed. The minister also revealed that the first lot of Rohingyas who were staying there were satisfied with the arrangements.
Earlier in 2017, 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh from the Buddhist country Myanmar as they started persecuting the minority due to insurgent attacks. Allegations of mass rapes, killings, and burning homes surfaced against Myanmar security forces.
Since then Bangladesh has tried to send the refugees back to their country as part of a bilateral treaty signed with Myanmar but the Rohingyas aren’t interested in going back.
Rohingyas are presently living as stateless refugees as Myanmar refused to recognize them as its citizens and is imposing state sanctioned discrimination procedures against them.