Alert: Rohingya – IHRC urges Bangladesh to stop the forceful transfer of Rohingya refugees from Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char Island

Image: Reuters

IHRC urges campaigners to write to their foreign ministers to put pressure on the government of Bangladesh to stop the forceful transfer of Rohingya refugees from Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char Island.

Background

Requested Action

Model Template

Recipient addresses

Background

The persecution of Rohingyas has been ongoing for decades. However, since October 2016, there has been a considerable escalation of the disaster. While it is still continuing in parts of Myanmar, some of the worst humanitarian catastrophes have already occurred. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people were killed, with 730,000 of Rohingya internally displaced, accompanied by rapes, looting, torture and beatings. Human rights groups and UN officials have described the situation amounted to ethnic cleansing.

According to the OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), as of March 2019, over 909,000 Rohingya refugees have gathered in Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, which is now home to the world’s largest refugee camp. There they remain, refusing early repatriation due to fear for their lives. IHRC has conducted a field visit to Cox’s Bazaar and listened to the accounts of Rohingyas that chime with evidence collected by other human rights organisations: widespread and unlawful killings as well as rape carried out by the Myanmar security forces, at times with the support of vigilante mobs in their execution of a scorched-earth campaign.

According to recent reports, Bangladesh government have forcefully moved around 1600 Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char island in the Bay of Bengal. The Bhasan Char Island is 36 miles from the mainland and known to be a low-lying island; vulnerable to cyclones and flooding. Therefore, it is not suitable for hosting vulnerable Rohingya refugees. Neither the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) nor any other international humanitarian organisations have been consulted before or during the forceful move which has led to growing concern about the wellbeing of the Rohingya refugees. The government has barred foreign journalists from visiting the island. Recent reports based on the testimony of the refugees on the island said Bangladesh authorities beat the refugees “when they went on hunger strike, pleading to be allowed to leave the island and return to the camps in Cox’s Bazar.”

The forceful transfer of the refugees to a remote island is an attempt by the Bangladesh government to hide the ongoing ordeal of the Rohingya refugees from the international community.

Action required

Write to the foreign ministers in your respective countries regarding the situation of Rohingyas, urging them to take action.

Model Template

[Your name]

[Your address]

[Date]

For the attention of [insert Foreign Minister’s name]

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am deeply concerned with the Bangladesh government’s transfer of Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char island in the Bay of Bengal.

As you may already know, the persecution of Rohingyas has been ongoing for decades; however, since October 2016, there has been a considerable escalation of the disaster. While it is still continuing in parts of Myanmar, some of the worst humanitarian catastrophes have already occurred. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people were killed, with 730,000 of Rohingya internally displaced, accompanied by rapes, looting, torture and beatings. Human rights groups and UN officials have described the situation amounted to ethnic cleansing.

According to the recent news, Bangladesh government have forcefully moved around 1600 Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazar to the Bhasan Char island in the Bay of Bengal. The Bhasan Char Island is 36 miles from the mainland and known to be a low-lying island; vulnerable to cyclones and flooding. Therefore it is not suitable for hosting vulnerable Rohingya refugees. Neither the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) nor any other international humanitarian organisations have been consulted before or during the forceful move which has led to growing concern about the wellbeing of the Rohingya refugees. The government has barred foreign journalists from visiting the Island. Recent reports, based on the testimony of the refugees on the island said, Bangladesh authorities beat the refugees “when they went on hunger strike, pleading to be allowed to leave the island and return to the camps in Cox’s Bazar.”

The forceful transfer of the refugees to a remote island is an attempt by the Bangladesh government to hide the ongoing ordeal of the Rohingya refugees from the international community.

I, therefore, urge you to should contact your Bangladeshi counterpart to request stopping the forceful transfer of the Rohingya refugees to the Bhasan Char Island immediately and encourage the Bangladeshi government to work with UNHCR and other international humanitarian organisation to ensure the wellbeing of the Rohingya refugees.

Yours sincerely,

[Your signature]

Your name

Recipient Addresses

United Kingdom                     

Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs                         

fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk