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Locals Speak Out - Ration Refuser Beaten And Son Later Assaulted By Police In Nayapara

Nayapara Camp

RB News 
June 1, 2014

Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh -- A quarrel occurred on May 26th, 2014 at around 4:30 PM in Nayapara Refugee Camp. One man involved who is known to be a "Ration Refuser" was seriously injured in the altercation which allegedly started with a dispute over a watermelon. He was brought to the Indoor Patient Department Hospital (IPD) within the camp. The doctor then referred him to Chittagong Medical College. One refugee told RB News "His skull has been torn to pieces. People collected the money from the mosque to send him to the hospital."

According to locals, the Police Constable and Police Inspector had taken a bribe from the man who beat Saleh Ahmed to cease the investigation about the beating. The son of Saleh Ahmed, 17 year old Mohammed Yousuf saw the money being exchanged and began to take photos with his mobile phone. When the police noticed the boy taking photos they apprehended him. According to locals the police began to beat him mercilessly "They played with his body like a football by four police. He was unconscious and was seriously injured in his chest."

Mohammed Yousuf from Block E, was taken to the IPD where he was taken for X-rays and given saline iv. Not much is available in the IDP ran by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to treat its patients. Often there are complaints of the doctors scolding refugees who are suffering from ailments and seeking treatment. The MOH doctors did not make a referral for Yousuf to go to Cox's Bazaar hospital despite several requests from local refugees to the UNHCR. He was unable to eat or drink. He could not speak properly. He could be heard though, shouting from the hospital room. A few women were fanning him to help him catch his breath in the dead heat. He cried out in the pitch black of the night between moments of unconsciousness. He remains there still.

A History Of No Security And Forcible Repatriation

Kutupalong and Nayapara, the two camps registered by UNHCR were settled after an influx of Rohingya fled from persecution, torture, extrajudicial execution, forced labour and portering in Arakan (Rakhine) state in 1991-1992. There were around 250'000 Rohingya people who had sought refuge at that time, most of which living in designated camp areas but receiving no aid. For the next two years the Bangladeshi government forcefully repatriated thousands of people with the stance that the non-refoulement law did not apply as the refugees had fled Arakan state due to poor financial situations and therefore they are not returning victims of persecution back to their persecutor. (Not that Bangladesh is a member of the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 protocol, but the are still expected to adhere to its principles.) 

In 1994, the UNHCR in agreement with Myanmar authorities, began to organize the repatriation process. Over the next 3-4 years tens of thousands of Rohingya were repatriated. In many cases against their will and forcefully. One refugee told RB News "The (cic) made my brother in law look up at the sun from 7am to 12 pm in 1997. Only to push us (Rohingya) back to Myanmar. They used different kinds of torture on us." 

This happened despite the concern voiced by many NGO's that the repatriation process continued without ensuring improvement of the human rights situation for the refugees in their homeland. The UNHCR led repatriation officially ended in April,1997.

Ration Refusers

In late July, 1997 Bangladeshi authorities forcibly returned 400 Rohingya refugees from the two registered camps back to Myanmar. At this time the refugees refused rations from The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and The World Food Program (WFP) in protest. The bulk of the refugees began to take rations again on the 31st of July. Others lasted out for months. Till today there are those in Nayapara Camp who continue this form of protest against the threat by the Bangladeshi government to repatriate them back to Myanmar without their demands being met. Atop of those demands is that the Myanmar government restores citizenship to the Rohingya that was taken away from them in 1982. 

In the case of Saleh Ahmed, he was described as this by local refugees: "He is a patriot for Arakan state. He demands the refugee options from International Communities only for the sake of Rohingya refugees of Arakan state." 

Ration Refusers say "we are in bangladesh only for justice. Not to eat." A direct rebuttal to allegations that they came to Bangladesh solely because of poor financial state. That what is happening in Myanmar to Arakan's Rohingya amounts to genocide. 

A Rohingya refugee told RB News "It is our sorrow that UNHCR is available in Bangladesh only for the safety of Rohingya refugees but they deny the Rohingya any issue. UNHCR is not performing the vital role for the Rohingya refugees according to UN Refugee law. They are not providing any assistance to the Refugees. Most of the Innocent refugees are beaten by the Police and other forces but If we complain to UNHCR they deny our case."

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