07 December 2019 - 19:32
News ID: 447880
A
Bangladesh has ordered the closure of the headquarters of a leading Rohingya advocacy group, which has become a key voice for the Muslim minority stuck in squalid camps, amid a clampdown by the country's authorities on the refugees.

RNA - A spokesman for the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH) said officials had told community leaders in the camps in southeast Bangladesh to keep the office of the ARSPH at Kutupalong — the world’s largest refugee settlement — padlocked until further notice.

“The CIC (Camp-in-Charge) directed us to padlock the office and not to gather in it without his prior consent,” Sayed Ullah told AFP on Friday.

He added that all of the activities by the rights group had now stopped.

Bangladesh is hosting the Rohingya refugees who fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar.

The crackdown that began in 2016 saw thousands of the Muslims being killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs.

After the initiation of the military campaign, which the UN has said was perpetrated with “genocidal intent,” more than 730,000 members of the minority fled Myanmar’s northwestern state of Rakhine to Bangladesh. They have largely been camped in the country’s southern district of Cox’s Bazar in squalid conditions.

Headed by former teacher Mohib Ullah, the ARSPH was established in late 2017 to collect evidence of genocide by Myanmar’s military during its offensive in Rakhine.

Ullah, a key refugee leader and spokesperson in international meetings, angered Bangladeshi authorities last August when he led a massive rally of 200,000 refugees to mark the second anniversary of the Myanmarese military crackdown.

The rally also allegedly raised fears among Bangladeshi host communities, which have become a minority in the two towns where the Rohingya live in the camps.

After the rally and a failed repatriation attempt, Bangladesh launched a clampdown on the refugees, cutting off high-speed internet in the region and ordering the army to erect barb-wire fences around major settlements.

A community leader, who spoke anonymously, expressed concern about the lockdown, saying “This office is a symbol of hope and aspirations of our community. Its shutdown would seriously impact the struggle for our rights.”

Rohingya Muslims, recognized by the UN as the world’s most persecuted minority group, are denied Myanmarese citizenship as the country’s leadership brands them “illegal” immigrants from Bangladesh, which, for its part, says they are from Myanmar.

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