UN experts urge Bangladesh to probe deaths of Rohingya

DHAKA, Bangladesh

UN human rights experts on Monday called on Bangladesh to look into the deaths happened in Rohingya refugee camps in the country’s Cox’s Bazar district.

In a statement, the UN human rights experts expressed its “deep concerns” over the recent restrictions imposed by the government and increased military presence at the refugee camps after a massive “Genocide Day” protest held last month.

“We urge the Bangladeshi Government to carry out an independent, impartial and effective investigation into all deaths that have occurred with regards to this case,” the statement said.

It noted that some 200,000 refugees gathered for the “Genocide Day” rally in Cox’s Bazar to mark the second anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar. They called for Myanmar citizenship rights and other guarantees before they agree to return.

As a consequence of organizing the rally at Cox’s Bazar on Aug. 25, some of the organizers were questioned and subjected to intimidation, the statement said, adding that a curfew is now being enforced on those in the camps, and mobile phones have been banned and confiscated.

“We are alarmed by the sudden crackdown of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and are seriously concerned, not only that these restrictions have been applied in a discriminatory manner against members of the Rohingya minority, who are refugees in Bangladesh, but also that curfews and communications shutdowns could facilitate further serious human rights abuses against them,” the statement said.

Bangladeshi police allegedly killed four Rohingya men and arrested at least another in response to a killing of a young Bangladeshi man on Aug. 22, the statement read.

“The search for justice for the young Bangladeshi man killed on 22 August is of the utmost importance, but it is equally necessary to ensure that the presumption of innocence is upheld and that reactionary, summary and ad hoc justice is not doled out solely to placate the legitimate concerns of the host community,” the experts said.

Persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
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