Narinjara news


Dhaka, 18
th March 02: A score of Burmese prisoners out of the six hundred waiting for their release in the prisons of Bangladesh will be taken back shortly, according to our correspondent.

These prisoners, some of who have been lingering in various jails of Bangladesh for as long as six years due to the negligence of the Burmese junta to recognize them as their own citizens and take them back accordingly, have only been taken back in small numbers beginning from 2001.

A former Burmese prisoner who was recently released from a Bangladeshi prison and taken up by the UNHCR, Bangladesh chapter, informed the Narinjara that twenty two of the Burmese prisoners who have been kept behind bars three to six years after the expiry of their prison terms in Bangladesh due to unwillingness by the Burmese military regime to take them back have at long last been duly recognized by the junta and will be released on 19th this month. The prisoners will be released from the prison at Cox'sbazaar in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh.

These twenty-two are the remnants of the group of prisoners who had been lingering in the Comilla prison to be taken back by the Burmese authority. On 21st March 2001 an official from the Burmese Embassy in Dhaka came to the Comilla prison and handed over a list of 132 prisoners they recognized out of the more than three hundred in the prison who the Burmese military regime offered to take back. They requested the prison officials to move the said 132 persons to the Cox'sbazaar prison, from where they would be taken to the border areas where the Burmese officials would receive them on the other side.

The official from the Embassy pledged to arrange everything for the repatriation of the prisoners in six months' time. But six months afterwards, on 28th September 2001, only eighty-nine prisoners out of the said 132 were received by the Embassy officials and handed over to the Nasaka Security Forces at Maungdaw, the bordering town with Bangladesh on the Burmese side. Afterwards the prisoners were each handed over kyat 1000 at Maungdaw as fare for their trip back home. At present only twenty-two Burmese inmates are left in the Cox'sbazaar prison from that group.

Fifty-one prisoners out of a hundred and thirty-eight were shifted from the Comilla prison to the Rangamati prison on 13th December 2001. When they all staged hunger strikes in the new prison denouncing the Burmese authority, they were badly treated and put into a cell. Six of the Burmese prisoners from the Sylhet prison were transferred to the Rangamati prison on 16th February this year. In the Sylhet prison the total number of prisoners waiting for their release is forty.

In the Bandarban prison there are more than four hundred Burmese prisoners who have completed their prison terms but have been waiting for some time to be recognized and received by their military government. Till this day there has been no query from the Burmese Embassy in Dhaka regarding the fate of these Burmese citizens waiting for their freedom, though the Burmese Embassy officials have on many occasions visited the town to a pagoda built by a large donation of money by the Burmese Embassy, it was learnt. #