Philippine Daily Inquirer
DEATH STALKS ROHINGYA REFUGEES IN WORLD’S LARGEST CAMPS IN SOUTHERN BANGLADESH
DHAKA— Bangladesh is deploying thousands of extra police to Rohingya refugee camps in the south after a series of mostly unexplained killings, officials said on Thursday.
Nineteen people have been killed since August when the Rohingya started flowing into Bangladesh from Myanmar after a military crackdown the United Nations described as “ethnic cleansing.”
Police have made a number of arrests in connection with some of the killings, but say the motives often remain unclear.
Conducted after dark and often by groups of men wielding pistols, knives and sticks, the killings have sent a chill through the camps, which are guarded by the Bangladesh army during the day but manned by fewer police officers at night.
Not enough cops
Police officials said there are 2,400 policemen guarding the camps but that was not enough and it was already being increased.
“We have 1,000 police officers right now for a million people, so you can imagine,” said police Superintendent Afrujul Haque Tutul.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar district since August, making it the world’s largest and fastest growing refugee camp.
Even before the August exodus, there had been violence in the camps, which Bangladesh police and aid workers have previously blamed on a struggle for control of supplies to the camps.
But Rohingya refugees also suggest there may be a link to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) whose assaults on Myanmar troops in August triggered the crackdown that led to the deluge of refugees.
Link to rebels
The latest killing, of 35-yearold Arifullah, took place last month outside the Balukhali camp, where he was stabbed at least 25 times by a group of still unidentified men.
Arifullah’s wife, who asked Reuters not to identify her or reveal her location, said Arifullah spoke English, worked with international agencies in Myanmar and was an Arsa critic.
A spokesperson for Arsa referred Reuters to a Jan. 31 statement, saying other groups were responsible for killings and were only using Arsa’s name to malign its image.
That statement was issued after the Jan. 19 killing of Yusuf, another English-speaking leader who frequently deals with international agency officials, who was killed by men who barged into his shelter while he was watching football.