Cruel Punishment For A Teacher's Family In A Bangladesh Refugee Camp
March 15, 2014
Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh - The mistreatment of the Rohingya refugees continues in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. Around 5.20am on March 13, 2014, a family of four have been mercilessly beaten, publicly embarrassed and forcibly transferred out of Nayapara refugee camp to Kutapalong.
MV Mohammad Zaber is a general refugee who is both a molouvi and and acedemic teacher within the camp. He had a private educational institution in Block H, near where he lived in Nayapara refugee camp. He taught about 30 students there as a means to support his family. On February 28, 2014 his school was burnt down by locals from Bangladesh. He complained to the proper channels of the UNHCR and CIC (camp-in-charge) regarding the arson. No action was taken.
During last week's visit by the Norweigan Ambassador to the Nayapara camp, Mohammed Zaber's father had spoken to the Delegates in front of the CIC. The CIC questioned him after the delegation left.
On the 13th of March, the newly appointed CIC, Shorob Hossain, with a group of BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) and members of the Police Battalion entered block H and to Zaber's home. They did so unannounced and without the presence of UNCHR representatives. The group took Zaber and his family members forcefully and by gunpoint to a truck at the main gate where they were then transferred to Kutupalong camp. The transfer was described by local refugees to be done "Forcefully like the repatriation of Myanmar."
Zaber's 80 year old father received the worst of the persecution. He was severely beaten by the authorities and was forced to climb a tree. The old man was also made to drink his own Urine when he had asked for a glass of water to drink.
A refugee living in Nayapara told RB News that Mohammad Zaber is a kind hearted man who always thinks for the welfare of the Rohingya people.
When asked why the locals in Bangladesh would burn down the private education centre, one of the refugees said that the locals dislike him because he had prevented and tried to stop the activities of the local gamblers and robbers and doing so by advising them through quotes and teachings of the Islamic rules.
Another hit to Rohingya refugee education
In Nayapara approximately 5000 students are attending schools within the camp. There are 12 schools in total, 7 of which are the larger Madrasahs (Islamic schools) with some offering academic programs as well as religious studies which include memorizing and reciting the Holy Quran. There are also 5 additional private centres like the one belonging to Molouvi Zaber.
The Refugee education system is based on Formal Primary Education (FPE), grades 1-5. A Non Formal Primary Education (NFPE), grades 6-8. Courses offered as standard have mostly slipped to English, Bangla and Math.
Education levels in Nayapara are grim, seeing figures from reports that 76% of the camps population have had no formal education whatsoever. 20% with FPE (primary) level and just only 4% with any education above five years.
Persecution of the educated refugees and Restrictions on international communication
UNICEF plays the largest role funding the 7 main refugee schools but the project is overseen by UNCHR locals. WFP would provide biscuit ration to some students. Many though were left in a stalled process and have received none. Due to inadequate salaries many teachers have resigned over the past few years. They have turned to other means to support their families, for example, by collecting firewood to sell.
Although the teachers of Nayapara are registered and approved by the CIC, Some have received no support and face persecution and harassment, as in the case of the arson burning the school in Block H.
A common statement to Rohingya refugees by local authorities is "This is not your country. You cannot do as you wish." There is no interest by the authorities or locals from Bangladesh to see the a Rohingya refugees to become educated or see a better life within the country.
In addition to a ban on mobile phones within the camp, the risk of arbitrary arrest and persecution is very high if they are caught making contact with the outside world. It is quite normal for educated refugees to be corralled and kept at a far distance from any international delegates when they visit the camps. The visit from the Norweigan Ambassador was an intimate one. She managed to speak with many people during her visit to both Nayapara and Kutupalong. Ones who could speak clear English and who could properly express the sorrowful conditions they face as stateless refugees within Bangladesh. So, coupling the arson complaint to authorities by Molouvi Zaber and the conversation between his father and the Ambassador, their families fate was sealed.
Kutupalong and Nayapara camps have an estimated combined total of 30000 refugees living there, registered by UNCHR. The camps though are are small. Many families are living in small sheds.
One of the main issues faced in order to be able to expand the educational availability to the population on the camps besides the lack of funding, is space constraints. Schools are at maximum capacity as it is and there is no room to expand.
RB News asked one refugee in Nayapara what the fate of Molouvi Zaber and his family once transferred to Kutapalong. We were told that they were transferred out and given cramped lodgings with just space only fit for two people for Molouvi Zaber's family of four. It's a shared space in a hut. 6 rooms per structure. "For example, 8 hands length and 8 hands length wide sized rooms and 8 people have to pass the night together in that room."