By: Nizam Ahmed
Bangladesh has tightened security along the border with Myanmar to prevent a possible influx of Rohingya Muslims following raging sectarian violence that killed 12 people in western Rakhine state over the last one week, security officials said in Dhaka on Friday.
The sectarian violence has spread into Maungdaw town close to Bangladesh border where two Rohingya youths were shot dead by police during a protest on Friday.
The victims along with hundreds of others were protesting at the centre of the town against killing of 10 Muslims during a riot in Taungup on last Sunday, officials of Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB) said quoting intelligence reports.
Several other people were also injured and a number of homes set on fire following the incident in Maungdaw, according News Kaladan, a news agency run by expelled Rohingyas in exile.
“We have ordered to tighten up security along the border because Rohingyas may attempt to cross into Bangladesh for safety if the violence flares up further,” a senior official of the BGB told the FE.
Frequent influx of Rohingya Muslims has been hurting Bangladesh economically for decades as the Rohingyas labelled by officials as “economic refugees” destroyed vast areas of forest land during their temporary settlement.
According to police, the refugees also create law and order problem by indulging in social and moral crime including human trafficking.
In connivance of unscrupulous officials some of the Rohingyas, who look like locals in appearance and speak in almost identical dialect, manage Bangladeshi passports and even enrol themselves as voters creating extra socio-political hazards.
According to unofficial estimates, nearly 400,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees are scattered in Bangladesh especially in southeast Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts over the past several years
These unregistered Rohingyas are in addition to some 30,000 registered Rohingyas, who have been awaiting repatriation in two refugee camps at Kutupalong and Nayapara under Cox’s Bazar district run by the government of Bangladesh and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The inmates of these two camps are the remnants of some 250,000 Rohingya refugees who had crossed into Bangladesh in late 1991 alleging persecution by Myanmar’s military junta.
These Rohingyas declined to return home fearing further persecution in Myanmar, although the others returned over the last two decades, following intervention of Bangladesh and the UNHCR.
However, a ray of hope was ushered in after the change of the government in Myanmar. But the recent flare up of sectarian violence may not only linger their repatriation but also trigger a fresh exodus of Rohingyas from the Rakhine state of Myanmar, according to security officials.
The violence sparked last week after a Buddhist women had been raped and murdered in Taungup of Rakhine state, also known as Arakan, which borders Bangladesh.
On Sunday a mob of hundreds of people attacked a bus, believing the perpetrators were on board, and beat 10 Muslims to death.