ZYA August 9, 2016

By Qutub Shah

After the arrest of some humanitarian workers in Teknaf last week, some Bangladeshi media like ‘The daily Star’ looks very active in portraying the incident exaggeratedly, and directing accusations to the whole Rohingya minority in an article titled ‘Secret meeting still a mystery’ published on 1st August.

It’s extremely shocking that the Daily Star identifies Hafiz Salaul Islam as the commander of RSO, and the RSO as ‘Separatist Outfit’, the meeting as ‘secret meeting’, and the refugee camps as “shelter”, etc.

On 30th July Saturday, joint forces detained four people — Saudi national Ahmad Al Saleh Al Badi; Moulvi Ibrahim, a Bangladeshi from Tangail who accompanied Ahmad; Hafiz Salaul Islam, according to The Daily Star, former military commander of Myanmar’s separatist outfit Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO); and Syed Karim, Baharchara Union AL vice-president, according to the Daily Star.

Rohingya Solidarity Organization

In 1990s RSO has been disarmed by seizing their arms, many of their members have been arrested and the organization has been totally destroyed by the Bangladeshi government. Bertil Linter from CNN has already reported that the so-called RSO doesn’t exist anymore. The same thing is confirmed by even BDR. But still the linking every humanitarian, educational or right activity among Rohingya with the so-called RSO is still a mystery.

“Separatist Outfit”

RSO or any other Rohingya movements were not for separation but for justice and freedom. Since 1940s, Rohingya’s only quest was a harmonious co-existence. After they lost hopes, some of the Rohingya were obliged to involve in arm struggle, like Mujahedeen in the mid-20th century, in order to restore their fundamental human rights denied by the successive governments of Burma. Portraying the RSO who once struggled for justice and freedom as ‘Separatist Outfit’ is a mere baseless accusation.

“Secret Meeting”

A Saudi national just visiting the refugees living in dire situation in cooperation with a local representative of the ruling party has no option other than taking rest at his home as a rural area. Of course he is not an election or nomination campaigner to deliver speech in public places. The daily Star portrays the hosting of AL leader this Saudi national as ‘Secret meeting’. Unreasonable is that the AL leading member allegedly involves in unlawful activity with Saudi national and Rohingya, while the AL-led government is very sensitive against Islamic or extremist activities and issues relating to Rohingya problem.

Hafez Salah-ul-Islam

Salah, who is accused of being commander of RSO Separatist, is known to be an educational activist leading an educational complex in Cox’s Bazar known as Imam Muslim Islamic Center that gives hundreds of poor local children access to education unaffordable by their own parents.

Among his past records, the Daily Star mentions that he grabbed the land where he built the complex, behind Cox’s Bazar College.  Is that possible to grab a big land in such a strategic area?

The Daily Star also added that he was arrested on Sep 29, 2012 for Ramu Buddhist Temple attack; on Feb 15, 2013 for Cos’x Bazar Jamaat-Shibir unrest; and on Mar 21st 2013 for another secret meeting in Teknaf. Now the question is: why is he set free after all these illegal activities and arrests?

“Residents of Rohingya shelter”

The biased media also describes the refugees as ‘residents of Rohingya shelter’ and their camps as ‘shelter’ ignoring the legal words used by the UN, although UN has described the Rohingya as the most persecuted minority of the world. It is really belittlement of their rights and status. The tragic humanitarian situation lived by those refugees are inhumane. But the Daily Star dare not use proper words to narrate the situation, lest it can lose its interests.

 “Involved in various crimes”

The Daily Star also writes “Cox’s Bazar is home to some 3,00,000 Rohingyas, many of whom are involved in various crimes in the bordering area” referring to sources in general. In this little strip of Cox’s Bazar border area, if many of this population of Rohingya are criminals, there should be crime record on hourly basis and the entire region should be a home to criminals only. Where are those sources that the Daily Star referred to? Is it trying to say, “Crimes are monopoly of Rohingya refugees?”

Security is tightened in Rohingya refugee camps. Some Rohingya living with locals have to hide their identity to avoid possible attack from locals or authorities. Where is the chance to be involved in various crimes?

By the analysis above we can easily sum up that the portrayals of these media to the situation and incident are mere accusation that are still a mystery, and illustrate a bad intent of theirs beyond these accusations, where Burmese intelligence or Mogh militant like Arakan Army or ALP takes the lead.

Of course we are not begging the media’s sympathy, but just asking to stand as a media in a neutral position, giving everyone the right deserved by. All in all, Rohingya are overwhelmed with gratitude for Bangladesh’s positive stand toward their problem.

To read The Daily Star reports: