Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
As a human rights activist who has been campaigning for Rohingya rights since 2012, I am writing to express my alarm at the current transfer of Rohingya refugees to the Bangladeshi remote island known as Bhasan Char.
As I write this letter, more than 900 Rohingya have been taken away by bus from their communities in the refugee camps in Bangladesh and are due to be shipped to Bhasan Char in the morning. The figure of 4,000 to be taken there imminently has been mentioned in the media, although there are also reports that the plan is to relocate 100,000 in total, which is unimaginable.
I have learnt that Rohingya who did not want to leave were told that their names were on a list and so they had to pack up and go. They were given no choice. Those who objected were met with violence and there are reports of Rohingya having their teeth knocked out. Families have been torn apart in this process, with cases of parents even separated from their children and husbands from their wives.
There were already more than 300 refugees currently being held against their will on the island after they were rescued from traffickers. These refugees have begged to leave the island and have reported cases of sexual assault and rape. Some refugees went on hunger strike to leave the island and were severely beaten when they refused to eat. They have reported jail-like conditions with up to 5 people living in a 50ft square room. I have looked at the layout of the buildings on Google Earth and found that it looks very cramped, like a concentration camp.
I feel that this way of treating any human beings is despicable. That the Rohingya are survivors of genocide and are being left without protection in this way, fed propaganda and false promises of that they will be educated, allowed to work and build better lives on this island, is a tragedy.
I call on you to do what you can to halt this atrocity from taking place, to stop the boat sailing in the morning, and to ensure that all Rohingya currently trapped on this island are returned as a matter of urgency.
I have included some links below to recent reports on this situation, but most importantly I ask you to listen to the cries of these families as they are separated and their loved ones taken away from them. The woman in the video is shouting ‘film this, they’ve stolen our relatives!’
“Film this, they’ve stolen our relatives!” she shouts.
— Jamila Hanan (@JamilaHanan) December 3, 2020
We cannot let this happen.
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