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Rohingya Refugees without Ration Cards Face Maltreatment in Bangladesh

By Rohingya Eye & Eliyas

Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh (Rohingya Vision) — The Rohingya refugees without ration cards at a refugee camp in Bangladesh has been facing severe maltreatments under the hands of the authorities and the refugee camp leaders backed by the government, said a Rohingya refugee in the camp.

The refugee camps located at Musoni area in Teknaf Township, Cox’s Bazaar district, have around 32,000 registered refugees. Of them, 52 families have not accepted the ration cards because the Bangladesh has refused to mention their ethnicity as Arakanese Rohingya.

Hence, those families without ration cards have been facing severe maltreatments, persecution and denial of access to meet with authorities, INGOs and journalists etc. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) does not/is unable to solve the dire problems of these refugees. They simply stay away.

The refugees (without the cards) are subjected to arbitrary arrests by the police and a few of them are banned from going out of their camps.

“Mohammed Ali, 40, is a refugee living at Musoni camps. He along with his wife and five children are forced to stay within their tents by the camp leader Hefzur Rahman Abdu Zabbar, 30, upon the instructions of the authority. Similarly, the tent of Salimullah, 59, was also destroyed by pelting stones. Both of them are families that refused to accept ration cards.

All the refugees without ration cards have become victims now. When the refugees complain to the police, they reply that they can’t solve the problems of the refugees without ration cards” said a refugee in the Musoni camps.

Furthermore, when the refugees without ration cards are found outside for any reasons, whether in search of livelihoods and out to buy basic foods for survival, they are arrested on false charges and subsequently imprisoned.

It has been learnt that around 8:00AM on June 22, Mv Noor Mohammed Sayed Hussein, 38, was arrested from his tent by the police at the ‘Musoni’ refugee camps. The police have accused him of persuading others not to accept ration cards, illegally receiving money from foreign countries and being a human trafficker. Since then, the police have been torturing him inhumanely in the detention. His family members are not allowed to meet him either.

Besides, Nizamuddin, 40, arrested for working outside has served two-months imprisonment and been released now. The police have also issued arrest warrant against another refugee, Noor Hakim, 70, because he was said to have worked outside.

Worse, since this is a monsoon season, many refugees are suffering from the lack proper shelters. They don’t have adequate shelters to protect them from the rain.

A refugee going by the name Kalam (not real name) said “on one hand, we have been targeted by the Bangladesh authorities because we didn’t accept the ration cards. On other hand, we have been suffering because water leaks from the roofs when it rains.

We request government of Bangladesh, the international government bodies and International NGOs to help us get rid of our miseries.”

The 52 families have refused to accept the ration cards because they want to preserve their ethnic identity ‘Rohingya.’  In the ration cards, it is only mentioned that they are Myanmar’s refugees. Hence, they are of the opinion that the Bangladesh government is cooperating with its Myanmar counterpart in destroying ethnic identity of the Rohingyas.

[Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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