Bangladeshi Navy ships drove around 1,600 Rohingya refugees to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal on Friday despite complaints from refugees and aid groups that some were being coerced.
Bangladesh says only refugees are ready to move to Bhasan Char and this will alleviate chronic overcrowding in camps that house more than one lakh of Rohingya, Muslim minorities who have fled to neighboring Myanmar.
But refugees and aid activists say some Rohingya people were forced to migrate to the flooded island of Bhanshan Char, which was left offshore 20 years ago.
A navy official said the Rohingya were on board seven boats, including two more, which left from the southern port of Chittagong.
The refugees filled the deck with warships on plastic chairs. Some umbrellas provided shelter from the sun on a journey of several hours.
Foreign Minister Abdul Moman told reporters on Thursday: “The government does not take anyone by force for four years. We maintain this position ”.
But after the two Rohingyas were relocated, Reuters said their names were on a list compiled by local leaders appointed by the government without their consent, while aid workers said authorities had made threats and decoys to put people under pressure. Used.
A 31-year-old man, who boarded a bus from camps near Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters he had forcibly taken us here. “Three days ago, when I found out my family was on the list, I ran away from the OR, but yesterday I was caught and taken here,” he said.
An 18-year-old woman said her husband put her name on the list, saying the food was for the ration. She said that when asked to go to Bhasan Char, she fled, adding that she too was hiding in the camp.
There were more than 730,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar in 2017 following a military crackdown which the United Nations says was carried out with intent to genocide. Myanmar denies the massacre and says its army was targeting Rohingya terrorists who attacked police stations.
“No refugee should be transferred until all human and humanitarian rights issues have been resolved,” said Ismail Wolfe, director of the Forties Rights Group.
Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 12 families whose names were on the lists but did not leave voluntarily.
Two aid workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the refugees had been pressured by government officials who had used cash and other enticing threats and offered to convince them to leave the island.
The United Nations said in a statement that it had received “limited information” on the transfers and was not involved in the preparations.
Bangladesh has built over 1,000 Cinderebl housing units in Bhasan for Rohingya refugees.
More than 300 refugees were brought to the island earlier this year after months at sea in an attempt to flee Bangladesh. Human rights groups say they are being held against their will and have complained of human rights violations.
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