Al­leged refugee traf­fick­ers shot by Bangladesh po­lice

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEW ROUNDUPS -

Bangladesh­i po­lice shot dead two sus­pected Ro­hingya hu­man traf­fick­ers, of­fi­cials said, af­ter res­cu­ing 103 refugees in two days about to make the per­ilous sea voy­age to Malaysia.

The two Ro­hingya men were killed out­side a refugee camp in the south­east on the evening of 14 May, said Prodip Ku­mar Das, po­lice chief of Tek­naf which bor­ders Myan­mar.

"They opened fire at the po­lice. We fired back in re­tal­i­a­tion," he told AFP.

This is the first time in four years sus­pected hu­man traf­fick­ers were killed in a gun­fight in Bangladesh's south­east.

It fol­lows a rise in at­tempted hu­man smug­gling of Ro­hingya in the last few months. Peo­ple-smug­glers have in re­cent years sent tens of thou­sands of Ro­hingya from the Bangladesh camps by boat to rel­a­tively pros­per­ous Malaysia, usu­ally be­tween Novem­ber and April when the seas are calmer.

But the route was dis­rupted in 2015 when a Bangladesh­i crack­down killed dozens of top traf­fick­ers af­ter Thai au­thor­i­ties dis­cov­ered mass graves and over­crowded boats drift­ing at sea.

Now the traf­fick­ers are back, of­fi­cials say, prey­ing on the camps where 740,000 Ro­hingya took shel­ter in 2017 af­ter flee­ing a bru­tal mil­i­tary crack­down in their home­land in Myan­mar.

Ma­sud Hos­sain, po­lice chief of Cox's Bazar district, told AFP that the po­lice alone have this year res­cued over 300 Ro­hingya, in­clud­ing many young girls, lured by traf­fick­ers to go to Malaysia.

On Tues­day evening Cox's Bazar po­lice res­cued 34 Ro­hingya bound for Malaysia, lo­cal po­lice chief Faridud­din Khand­ker said, a day af­ter 69 peo­ple were res­cued.

Po­lice also in­ter­cepted 23 Ro­hingya teenage girls from the cap­i­tal Dhaka last week wait­ing to be traf­ficked to Malaysia by air. Po­lice sus­pect the girls were to be sold for forced pros­ti­tu­tion.

Rights ac­tivists are wor­ried about grow­ing des­per­a­tion in the camps but said gun­fights were not the so­lu­tion.

"This (killing traf­fick­ers in gun­fights) will never bring any per­ma­nent so­lu­tion. In­stead it will cre­ate a hor­rific en­vi­ron­ment in the camps," prom­i­nent rights worker Nur Khan Li­ton told AFP.

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