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Hundreds of Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh turned away at border

Bangladeshi military turn away civilians trying to escape eruption of violence in Myanmar's Rakine State

Hundreds of Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh turned away at border

A group of Rohingya attempt by boat to flee from violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State to the safety of Bangladesh. (ucanews.com photo)

Stephan Uttom, Dhaka
Bangladesh

August 28, 2017

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Some of the thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing deadly violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State have been turned back by Bangladeshi border patrols.

Lieutenant Colonel Ariful Islam, commander of the Border Guards Bangladesh Battalion 2 at Teknaf, said they pushed away 250 Rohingya attempting to enter Bangladesh over the weekend.

"We have increased patrols along the border but we know some of them have entered the country illegally," Islam told ucanews.com. "We are adamant to carry out our task to seal off and secure the border from intrusion and illegal activities," he said.

Local media and sources within the Rohingya refugee community in Cox's Bazar stated that at least 3,000 new refugees from Rakhine have entered Bangladesh following an eruption of violence beginning Aug. 24 when Rohingya militants attacked police and military posts, according to the Myanmar military.

The death toll of the violence so far includes 12 security forces members and 77 militants killed during attacks and counter attacks, according to the Myanmar military. International media have reported more than 100 deaths including many civilians.

 

Soldiers of the Bangladesh Border Guards take position along Gundhum border area of Bandarban district following violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar. (ucanews.com photo)

 

A local Bangladeshi government official at the Gundhum border area of Bandarban district, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were shocked by violence in neighboring Rakhine.

"From time to time we have heard gunshots on the Myanmar side and we have seen hundreds of Rohingya take refuge near the barbed wire fence," the official told ucanews.com.

"Some of them entered Bangladesh and we have found they have injuries including gunshot wounds. The Border Guards have deployed forces to stop Rohingya from entering the country," he said.

Abu Sayeed, a Rohingya leader from Kutuplaong unregistered camp in Cox's Bazar, said about 1,200 new refugees fled to the camp for safety.

"The new refugees are distraught. It seems they have not eaten for two-three days," Sayeed told ucanews.com. "We have come to know that hundreds of fleeing Rohingya men, women and children are waiting on the other side of the border, but cannot enter Bangladesh due to the strict patrolling," Sayeed said.

Theophil Nokrek, secretary of Catholic bishops' Justice and Peace Commission, was dismayed at the recent violence in Rakhine.

"Rohingya have formed militant groups to fight for their survival and the world needs to explore why they are being forced to take up arms," Nokrek told ucanews.com. "I don't see any difference between the Rohingya militants and Myanmar military, but the saddest thing is that innocent people are dying."

Nokrek also criticized Bangladesh's Rohingya policy.

"The poor, desperate situation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh is a result of the government's total negligence toward them from the beginning. And now, not allowing fleeing Rohingyas [into Bangladesh] amounts to a serious violation of human rights," he said.

"At least on humanitarian grounds, Bangladesh must not let the Rohingya fall into a death trap," he said.

Minority Rohingya Muslims have faced decades of repression in Rakhine State. Despite living in the country for centuries, Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship rights. Bangladesh sees Rohingya as "unwelcome guests."

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Rakhine State to Bangladesh over the past several decades to escape violence. Bangladesh currently hosts about 276,000 refugees, according to United Nations Refugee Agency. Bangladesh says the figure is up to half a million.

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