Bangladesh rejected a rights group’s report about extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims who took shelter at refugee camps in the southern Cox’s Bazar district fleeing a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar.
Amnesty International on Monday called on Bangladeshi authorities to put a stop to extrajudicial executions of Rohingya refugees and conduct independent, impartial and effective investigations into the matter.
“Bangladesh authorities must respect and protect the human rights of Rohingya, including the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and movement, as well as their other rights as refugees,” the rights watchdog said in a statement.
However, Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal refused to accept them as Rohingya refugee, while labelling them as “drug dealers”.
On Aug. 23, 2019, Omar Faruk, 30, a local leader of the Bangladeshi ruling party’s youth wing, was shot dead, allegedly by a group of Rohingya men.
In protest of the murder, supporters of the party blocked a highway and vandalized a number of shops and houses inside the Jadimura Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar.
Since then, at least seven Rohingya men, allegedly suspects of the murder, have been killed in reported “gunfights” with police.
“The victims were arrested, and then they were taken to a location to ‘recover’ illegal substances — then a so-called ‘gunfight’ took place that claimed the lives of one or more victims,” Amnesty cited as a common response by local law enforcement agency for the killings.
According to media reports, at least 45 Rohingya refugees have been killed in Bangladesh in so-called gunfights with police over the past 26 months since the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar following a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine state on Aug. 25, 2017.
The Bangladeshi minister added that some drug dealers in Myanmar used Cox’s Bazar as a safe trafficking route when fleeing anti-narcotic drives by Myanmar police.
Amnesty International also expressed concern on restrictions on Rohingya refugees’ movement and communication with ban of the use of mobile phones and networks after a large rally in refugee camps on Aug. 25, 2019 to mark the second “Genocide Day”.