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SLORC'S CONTINUOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIO
- Subject: SLORC'S CONTINUOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIO
- From: moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 20:50:00
Subject: SLORC'S CONTINUOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
Thousands of Burmese Moslems flee into Bangladesh
09:40 a.m. Jul 15, 1997 Eastern
By Mohammad Nurul Islam
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, July 15 (Reuter) - Nearly 15,000
Burmese Moslems, driven by hunger and military persecution, have
fled into Bangladesh in the past three months, officials and border
guards said on Tuesday.
``It has been an endless trickle,'' Lieutenant-Colonel Rafiqul Hannan
of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border force told Reuters.
He said the BDR had arrested some 2,000 non-registered Burmese
Moslems, called Rohingyas, over the past three months and pushed
them back across the frontier Naf river.
The new influx began as Bangladesh was awaiting to repatriate some
21,500 Rohingyas who have been living in refugee camps in Cox's
Bazar district, bordering Arakan, for more than four years.
More than 250,000 Rohingyas fled to southeastern Bangladesh in
early 1992 from Arakan, Burma's only Moslem-majority province,
complaining of military persecution and forced labour.
Repatriation, supervised by the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), began in September that year following an
agreement between Dhaka and Rangoon.
The process stopped in early April. Bangladesh blamed the
``reluctance'' of Burmese immigration officials in giving clearance to
the home-bound refugees.
Mohammad Yunus and his 10-member family arrived in Bangladesh
from Arakan on July 2, along with 30 other families. They have been
living in shanties built illegally on the outskirts of Cox's Bazar.
``We were landless and usually bought our food by selling labour.
But in recent months food prices (in Arakan) have more than
doubled,'' Yunus, 55, explained.
``And (Burmese) soldiers forced us to work at military sites and
often did not pay for it. They imposed restrictions on our movement
from one village to another,'' he said.
``We have often been tortured for refusing to give forced labour.
Sometimes they detained us and kept us without food.''
Boyerd Solar, UNHCR representative in Cox's Bazar, said his
organisation had proposed that Bangladesh allow the 21,500
Rohingyas who entered the country in 1992 to stay.
``The proposal was made in view of lengthy delay and uncertainty
we are facing in sending these people back to their homes,'' he said.
He said the UNHCR had also proposed that the World Food
Program and U.N. Development Program help with the rehabilitation
of the Rohingyas in Bangladesh.
``But Bangladesh has rejected the proposals,'' he added.
Zafrul Islam Azizi, an official with the government's Relief and
Rehabilitation Commission in Cox's Bazar, said the refugees have
grown reluctant to go back to Burma after hearing about the
``They started resisting...and we cannot force them to leave because
under the 1992 repatriation treaty (it) has to be voluntary,'' Azizi