Saudi Rohingya deportations slammed

With Bangladesh already burdened by Rohingya refugees, Saudi Arabia should have done more to help fellow Muslims, critics say
Saudi Rohingya deportations slammed

A Rohingya man walks near a road construction site at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar district of Bangladesh on Sept. 2, 2018. Saudi Arabia's recent deportation of Rohingya immigrants has drawn fire from both rights' activists and refugees. (Photo by Rock Ronald Rozario/

Rights activists and Rohingya refugees have slammed Saudi Arabia's detention and deportation to Bangladesh of allegedly illegal Rohingya immigrants as inhuman and unwise.

Saudi Arabia deported at least 13 Rohingya from a Jeddah detention center early Jan. 8, reported the English language The Daily Star based in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka.

A policeman at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Abdur Rahman, told publication that the Rohingyas arrived there around 2 am.

"They have admitted that they are Rohingyas, but they have Bangladeshi passports," he said.

Based on video footage, the London-based 'Middle East Eye' said Jan. 8 that Saudi Arabia was moving to deport scores of stateless Rohingyas who were seen "being handcuffed, lined up and prepared for removal to Bangladesh."

Nay Sin Lwin, a Rohingya activist based in Frankfurt, Germany, told Al Jazeera that most Rohingya entered Saudi Arabia after deadly sectarian violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar in 2012 using passports obtained through allegedly fake documents.

Nay San Lwin explained that upon entering Saudi Arabia, their fingerprints had been registered as "Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Nepalese" as the Rohingya identity was not accepted.

Officials from various embassies, apart from those of Bangladesh, had refused to accept them, he told Al Jazeera.

Despite the Saudi government being legally within its rights, Rohingya deportations to Bangladesh were inhuman, said Holy Cross Father Liton Hubert Gomes, secretary of Catholic Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission in Bangladesh.

"I don't know what makes Saudi Arabia detain and deport Rohingya immigrants to Bangladesh right now," he said.

Despite the illegal status of the Rohingya in Saudi, they deserved sanctuary on humanitarian grounds and at least as fellow Muslim brethren, the priest added.

Nur Khan, a Dhaka-based lawyer and rights activist, also criticized the Saudis.

"Rohingya are stateless people and denied citizenship despite their presence in Rakhine State of Myanmar for centuries, and they have never been citizens of Bangladesh," Khan told

"Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh to save their lives as Myanmar authorities have clearly demonstrated Rohingya are not welcome through their repressive and aggressive actions.

"Bangladesh is already overburdened with more than a million Rohingya refugees, so Saudi should have lessened the load instead of putting more pressure on Bangladesh."

Rohingya Muslims have endured abuses and persecution in Rakhine State of Buddhist Myanmar for decades.

Despite their presence in the country for generations, Rohingya have been denied citizenship and basic rights and are seen by many in Myanmar as recent illegal immigrants.

For decades, Rohingya have trickled into Bangladesh, residing in squalid refugee camps in south-eastern border districts.

Many have attempted to move to other countries by dangerous sea voyages on the rickety boats of human traffickers and also by obtaining Bangladeshi passports using fake documents.

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