Bangladesh naval vessels carried some 1,600 Rohingya refugees in the direction of a distant island within the Bay of Bengal on Friday regardless of complaints by refugees and humanitarian teams that some had been being coerced.
Bangladesh says it is just transferring refugees who’re prepared to go to Bhasan Char and it’ll ease persistent overcrowding in camps which can be house to greater than 1 million Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority who’ve fled neighbouring Myanmar.
But refugees and humanitarian staff say among the Rohingya had been coerced into going to Bhashan Char a flood-prone island that emerged from the ocean 20 years in the past.
A naval official mentioned the Rohingya had been aboard seven boats, with two extra carrying provides, that set out from the southern port of Chittagong.
Refugees had been packed throughout the decks of the naval vessels on plastic chairs. Some introduced umbrellas to shelter from the solar on a journey that takes a number of hours.
“The government is not taking anyone to Bhashan Char forcibly. We maintain this position,” Foreign Minister Abdul Momen instructed reporters late on Thursday.
But two Rohingya being relocated instructed Reuters their names appeared on lists compiled by government-appointed native leaders with out their consent, whereas help staff mentioned officers used threats and enticements to stress folks into going.
“They have taken us here forcefully,” a 31-year-old man instructed Reuters tearfully by telephone as he boarded a bus from the camps close to Cox’s Bazar. “Three days ago, when I heard that my family is on the list, I ran away from the block, but yesterday I was caught and taken here,” he mentioned.
An 18-year-old lady mentioned her husband had put their names on the listing pondering it was for meals rations. He fled after they had been instructed to go to Bhasan Char, she mentioned, including that she can also be hiding within the camp.
They had been amongst greater than 730,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar in 2017 following a military-led crackdown that the United Nations mentioned was executed with genocidal intent. Myanmar denies genocide and says its forces had been focusing on Rohingya militants who attacked police posts.
“Not one refugee should be moved until all human rights and humanitarian concerns have been resolved and genuine informed consent is assured,” mentioned Ismail Wolff, director of the Fortify Rights group.
Human Rights Watch mentioned it had interviewed 12 households whose names had been on the lists, however had not volunteered to go.
Two help staff, who spoke on situation of anonymity, mentioned refugees had come below stress from authorities officers who used threats and provides of money and different enticements to steer them to go to the island.
The United Nations mentioned in an announcement it had been given “limited information” concerning the relocations and was not concerned in preparations.
Bangladesh has constructed greater than a thousand cinderblock housing items on Bhasan for the Rohingya refugees.
More than 300 refugees had been delivered to the island earlier this yr after a number of months at sea in an try and flee Bangladesh. Rights teams say they’re being held towards their will and have complained of human rights violations.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)