Bangladesh releases French activist helping Rohingyas
Bangladesh has released a French aid worker months after he was arrested for allegedly helping Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya refugees.
Moussa Tchantchuing, also known as Moussa Ibn Yacoub, was released on Tuesday after being granted bail by the high court, the AFP news agency reported.
French embassy press attache Shakhawat Hossain said that he was freed “after 70 days in jail on condition that he cannot leave Bangladesh territory without the prior permission of the judge”.
On December 19 last year, Tchantchuing was arrested on charges of “suspicious activities”. He was later also accused of a “criminal breach of trust, cheating by personation and abetment”.
Tchantchuing came to Bangladesh and neighbouring Myanmar to help the Rohingyas, according to the non-governmental organsiation he worked for, BarakaCity.
The Rohingyas are a mostly Muslim minority in Bhuddist majority Myanmar.
In recent years, they have fled violence and persecution in Myamar’s Arakan (Rakhine) province for Bangladesh’s south eastern district Cox’s Bazar and other South East Asian nations.
Amnesty describes the Rohingyas as the “most persecuted refugees in the world”.
BarakaCity confirmed the release of Tchantchuing on Twitter and the move came after a petition was launched demanding he be set free.
Earlier in January, Tchantchuing was granted bail but his release was stopped after authorities found that he was using a name different to the one registered in his passport.
Bangladesh shares a long border with Myanmar, and has discouraged local and international charities from aiding hundreds of thousands of unregistered Rohingya who have taken refuge in the country’s south eastern resort district of Cox Bazar.
In August 2012, the French aid agencies Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger and the British agency Muslim Aid were told to stop aid to the Rohingya people. The French charities were later allowed to carry on their work.
Bangladesh recognises some 30,000 Rohingya as refugees, but the total number of those who have crossed the border is estimated at around 300,000.
Note: changes have been made, AFP is not responsible for these