By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Human rights activists have expressed concern at rising alleged extra-judicial killings of Rohingya refugees by police in Bangladesh.
In less than a month, police have killed eight refugees including two on Thursday in the southern city of Cox’s Bazaar, which is home to 1.2 million Rohingya.
These killings labeled by authorities as incidents of “crossfire” or “gunfight” have been recorded following the murder of a ruling Awami League party leader. Six of those killed have been accused of a role in the murder.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) marked this decades-old conventional statement by law enforcers as “familiar explanation [that] is often a euphemism for extrajudicial executions".
“The killings have created a climate of intense fear in the refugee camps,” said the group’s Asia Director Brad Adams.
“[Rohingya] people who fled massacres should not have to fear for their lives again,” he added.
UN human rights experts also called for an "independent, impartial and effective" investigation into the deaths of the Rohingya men in the recent gunfights with police.
Over the last two years, 38 Rohingya refugees have been killed in police shootouts, raising questions about the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims in the host country.
Rohingya community leaders claim authorities often link these extra-judicial killings to drug and human trafficking, adding that any such accusations must be tried in the court of law.
“If anyone of us is accused of any unlawful practice here, produce them before trial court. But don’t kill anyone without trial”, Rohingya refugee at Kutupalang camp Abdur Rahim told Anadolu Agency.
He added: “We fled genocide in our homeland and are now leading almost a subhuman life in camps. We want to go back our country [Myanmar’s Rakhine] if peaceful environment is ensured along with safety and dignity.”
Bangladesh, of recent, has taken a hardline toward Rohingya refugees following the failure of the latest repatriation move last month.
The host country has imposed bans on activities of 41 non-governmental organizations in Rohingya camps, limited mobile services and is even planning to set barbed wire around the camp to prevent movement of refugees.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in a news briefing on Wednesday reiterated the call for repatriation of the refugees to Myanmar.
"The most important allies of Myanmar including China and Russia are now in favor of peaceful Rohingya repatriation,” Momen said.
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.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, more than 34,000 were thrown into fires and over 114,000 others were beaten by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
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.