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Tuesday, June 12, 2012
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Officials of Border Guard Bangladesh inspect a boat carrying Rohingya people who fled the sectarian violence in Myanmar and crossed the Naf River into Teknaf yesterday. BGB and coastguard teams pushed back eight boats of refuge seekers.Photo: STAR
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Bangladesh border and coast guards yesterday pushed back 11 boats carrying around 500 Myanmar nationals as they tried to enter Bangladesh through Cox's Bazar for refuge from sectarian violence in Rakhine state.

In the face of the deadly clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, the United Nations have also been evacuating their staff from its Maungdaw base in western Myanmar, reports AFP.

It evacuated the first batch of staff to the Myanmar capital on Sunday followed by the second batch on Monday, said Ashok Nigam, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Yangon.

The Myanmar government on Sunday declared a state of emergency in Rakhine to deal with the violence.

Meanwhile, the intruders, who were denied entrance to Bangladesh yesterday, were mostly of Muslim Rohingya families.

Out in the sea for the last few days, these panic-stricken people had very little food and water with them and were intensely unwilling to go back.

Members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) intercepted three engine boats carrying at least 182 Myanmar nationals in the Naf River, about one kilometre from the BGB Shah Pori Dwip observatory post in Teknaf, around 7:30am and sent them back, said Maj Shafiqur Rahman, second-in-command of 42 battalion.

Most of the intruders were women and children, he added.

Failing to cross the border the three boats headed towards the St Martin's Island later when another boat with refuge seekers joined the fleet. But they faced resistance from the coast guards.

Station officer Lt Badroddoza of Bangladesh Coast Guard, Teknaf told The Daily Star that they had pushed back the four boats around 12:30pm.

“We came to know that the boats had landed in Nakhunda area of Myanmar,” he said.

Around 1:30pm, BGB men and coast guards chased away four more engine boats as they tried to intrude into Bangladesh crossing the Naf. Two of the boats carrying around 90 people were pushed back from near Shah Pori Island border.

The other two boats carrying 64 passengers managed to enter Bangladesh territory but were intercepted by BGB and coast guards near the Teknaf border.

BGB second-in-command Maj Shafiqur said the two boats were brought to Shah Pori jetty area and the passengers were provided with some bread, water and fuel in the face of requests from locals.

Mohammad Yusuf, 27, said miscreants had attacked their locality in Akiyab city Sunday afternoon and opened fire at the residents. He and his grandfather fled the house and got on a boat. They had been in the sea for the last two days with the hope that they would find shelter in Bangladesh.

Ailing mother Rehana Begum, 21, was so eager to get the BGB permission to stay here that in her approach she was paying no heed to her six-month-old hungry baby, who was crying for milk.

Approached, she burst into tears and said miscreants had burnt down their houses and been trying to kill them. She was desperate to stay away from the violence and avoid barbaric death.

Rashida Begum, 40, and Syeda Khatun, 42, of Jaliapara of Akiyab were found shocked and crying. They said Muslims were being tortured in their localities and they definitely did not want to go back then.

Around 3:30pm the Myanmar nationals were escorted out of the Bangladesh territory. But the air became heavy with their screaming for shelter and protection.

Three more engine boats carrying around 100 Rohingyas were intercepted by BGB at Gular Char of Shah Pori Dwip area around 10:00pm. These boats were too driven away from Bangladesh territory by border guards.

BGB Chittagong Sector Commander Col Golam Farooque Chowdhury, who visited Shah Pori Island yesterday, said they were keeping watch so that Myanmar nationals could not enter Bangladesh with the help of their relatives here.

He said security had been beefed up at nine BGB posts along the Teknaf border.

Maj Shafiqur said four additional platoons had been deployed along with 400 BGB men at the outposts for round-the-clock surveillance.

Human movement and trades between Bangladesh and Myanmar through Teknaf land port and Kaiukkhalia Transit Ghat had come to a halt since Friday, said Upazila Nirbahi Officer ANM Nazim Uddin.

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A civilized country should not closed her eyes when there are a humanitarian crisis on next door. We should not forget about 1971, where millions took refugee in India to save their lives. What would happen to us, had India closed the border fearing Migration? After all a Muslim majority Bangladesh should have some sympathy for others Muslim.

: palash

Is it not illegal under international humanitarian law to push back refugees in distress? Furthermore, if the refugees do have enough supplies to survive the journey, does not the safety of their lives fall under the responsibility of the border/coast guards pushing them back?

: Anonymous


  • mike mamalate
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 06:17 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    Dear Editor, I just want to point out the fact that Rohingya are not Myanmar. They are stateless people, residing in Myanmar ilegally. The Daily Star should have check the fact and history of Rohingya before started calling them Myanmar.

  • Abdullah Al Fahad
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 12:28 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    This is not right, we should accept them in refugee camps for humanitarian purposes. From a humanitarian and civilized point of view, this is unacceptable. We are not accepting them as Bangladeshi citizens, but we can keep them in BD for a while as refugees.

  • azizirafiq
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 01:39 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    actually how many boats pushed back?

  • Shakil Ahmed
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 02:53 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    if India was in place of Bangladesh then their BSF would have killed.

    I don't thing BGB did wrong.

    Think about India what they do against Bangladeshi ?????????

  • Satadru_frm_Kolkata
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 03:26 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    BD should allow them to stay as it is a humanitarian crisis. Don't forget million BD people received shelter, food, and security in West Bengal, India. Show some heart friends.

  • ka
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 03:48 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    I am utterly disappointed at Daily Star's coverage of this event. Instead of just reporting what happened, DS could have pointed out what we should have done from a humanitarian consideration at the very least without going into our obligation under UN charter of human rights. These people pushed back into the sea will probably die of starvation or drown in inclement weather. The alternative for them is to return and get killed. Have we lost all compassion as a nation?

  • Nasiruddin Ahmed
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 08:07 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    It is a fact that as a poor and over populated country Bangladesh cannot afford to accept more people from outside of its territory.And then there is the problem of crime and militancy. But,nonetheless, humanity comes first. We must accept these distressed people to save them from immediate hardship and thereafter should negotiate with the Govt.of Myanmar for their honorable repatriation on the basis of international law.Helping people in need is one of the fundamental teachings of Islam.

  • batul
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 08:16 PM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    I completely disagree with Mr. Shakil Ahamed. The two situations are completely different. India showed her greatness in 1971. Bangladesh should have also done the same with the Rohingia refugees rather than pushing them back where death awaits them. Learn good lessons thats what

  • Engr Shafiqul Islam, USA
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 01:32 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    Heartless BGB & AL govt need to understand the human rights are above politics. If the victims were non-Muslims whole world, UN would come to their aid. BD should open the border for these helpless people just like Turkey is doing for the Syrian people.

  • Khondakar Golam Mowla
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 01:46 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    Please allow all who ever cross border and come to Bangladesh to save their life and honor.

  • Khalid W. Islam
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 03:10 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    We are appalled that the author did not mention the humanitarian implications of pushing back distressed refugees. Even if it were not for respect for humanitarian law, how can an Armed Forces of a country push back refugees from a neighboring country when they know that the refugees face death from starvation, drowning or attack? Where is our humanity as Bangladeshis?

  • Sellma
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 03:39 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    Bangladesh as a member of UN must allow these persecuted people temporary shelter.

  • Antik
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 03:45 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    I think instead of turning back these clearly helpless people, we should at least arrange temporary protection for them in Bangladesh.

  • s.m. mehedi hasan
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 10:45 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    How heartless Bangladesh is! It forgets the story of 1971 with bliss.

    Look at the feared, hungry, desperate faces of children, males and females. Forget they are Muslims but mind they are human beings. Lets open the border to take them refugee.

  • mehedi
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 10:53 AM GMT+06:00 (392 weeks ago)

    There flies the fire over Akiab and Arakan .

    Bangladesh Sings the songs unsung .

    You fear the the world for they are Muslims .

    Don't forget that they are human beings.





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