The United States has voiced concern over the reports that Bangladesh was turning back Rohingyas fleeing the ethnic violence in Myanmar and urged the government to allow the refugees in.
“We’re concerned that Bangladeshi authorities appear to have intercepted and turned back persons fleeing the ethnic and religious violence in Burma,” State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
She stressed, “We’ve been urging the government of Bangladesh to respect its international obligations under the relevant refugee conventions and to continue its longstanding policy of non-refoulement of refugees.”
Replying to a question at a daily press briefing, the spokesperson also said, “We’re also continuing to make the point to all sides in Burma that it is important to settle these issues not through violence but through dialogue, and to put down their arms and start talking to each other.”
Non-refoulement refers to a principle of international law that forbids turning over a victim of persecution to his or her persecutor.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also talked about the ethnic and Rohingya issues when she had a brief meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna before starting the border security dialogue, the spokesperson added.
On Tuesday, the Bangladesh government said it would not allow any more refugees in Bangladesh as the county is already overburdened with more than half a million Rohingya refugees who have also been creating various social problems.
The government authorities also directed the local administration and law enforcement agencies to beef up vigilance and resist the intrusion of refugees.
On the other hand, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a briefing the same day urged the Bangladesh government to allow people seeking refuge in the country from sectarian clashes in Myanmar.
The Rohingya are considered one of the world’s most persecuted groups, with Myanmar not officially recognizing them as a minority.
Our Cox’s Bazaar correspondent said, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) launched house-to-house search operation in border villages of Teknaf upazila to find out illegal Rohingyas on Wednesday night.
When contacted second in command of BGB in Teknaf Major Shafiqur Rahman told daily sun, “We’ve detained 18 illegal Rohingyas from houses of Mistripara, Sahaparir Dwip and Jaliapara villages of Teknaf on Thursday morning. They were hiding in their relatives’ houses in the villages”. The search operation will continue, he added.
Commanding Officer of 42 Battalion of BGB in Teknaf Lt Col Jahid Hasan told daily sun that four Bangladeshi human traffickers were also arrested from Jaliapara village during the search operation.
They are Mohammad Abdullah, 26, Mohammad Ismail, 20, Mohammad Hashem, 28 and Amir Hossain, 20. They hail from Mistri Para and Shahaparir Dwip village of Teknaf upazila. Later the arrested persons were handed over to Teknaf Police Station.
On Thursday BGB and Coast Guard pushed back 33 more Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
Earlier BGB and Coast Guard personnel pushed back 33 more Rohingya Muslims with two engine boats from Shahaparir Dwip and Jaliapara of Teknaf upazila on Thursday noon, sources said.
Of them BGB pushed back 25 Rohingyas from Jaliapara and Coast Guard pushed back 8 others from Shahaparir Dwip area.
With this 729 Rohingyas were pushed back from Teknaf, Shahaparir Dwip and Saint Martins Island in last four days by BGB and Coast Guard personnel.
On the other hand, an engine boat with about 40 Rohingyas was stranded in Gholar Char area of the Bay near Teknaf due to bad weather on Thursday morning, said Lt Col Jahid.
BGB men already started work for rescuing the stranded boat, he said. Myanmar nationals will not be allowed to enter Bangladesh as BGB and Coast guard personnel are on high alert in the coastal areas, BGB official said.
When contacted Lt Commander Badrudduza of Coast Guard in Teknaf station told this correspondent, “We are on alert in the coastal areas to foil Rohingya intrusion attempts, we’ve already pushed back 8 Rohingyas of one boat from Sahapurir Dwip area on Thursday noon,” he said.
Locals and fishermen in Teknaf said that they have seen about 300 Rohingyas were running around in five engine boats in the Bay along Bangladesh-Myanmar border on Thursday morning as BGB and Coast Guard pushed them back after botched attempt to anchor in Teknaf. The Rohingyas have been facing scarcity of food, sources said.
On the other hand Bangladesh-Myanmar border trade halted for seven days since Friday last following the riots in Myanmar. As a result Bangladeshi border traders have been facing problems while the government losing revenue of Tk 4.0 million per day, General Manager of Teknaf land port Abdul Mohaimen told daily sun.
Bangladeshi border guards have so far turned back 19 boats carrying more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims, most of them women and children, since Monday as they tried to enter from Myanmar across the river Naaf, according to local officials. Rohingyas are trying to intrude into Bangladesh by boats since the riot broke out at Muangdaw district in coastal Rakhine state last Friday.
At least 29 people were killed and many others wounded in five days of unrest between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist Rakhines in northwest Myanmar.
Meanwhile, to check the infiltration of Rohingya refugees, the local administration put embargo on Bangladeshi trawlers fishing in the Naf river.
Myanmar government declared state of emergency in its Rakhine state on Sunday.
Source: Daily Sun