Rohingyas show demonic face: Pose serious security threat

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Rohingya, Bangladesh

In the past seven years, Cox’s Bazar has witnessed a surge in criminal activities, with 3,336 cases reported involving the Rohingya community. The crimes span various categories, with significant involvement in drug-related offenses, murder, weapon possession, kidnappings, and fights. This alarming trend highlights the complex challenges faced by Bangladesh in managing the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Since 2017, the influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh has exacerbated crime levels. The local population in Cox’s Bazar is increasingly concerned about the escalating criminal activities attributed to the Rohingya community. According to police records, over 60 percent of drug cases in the region involve Rohingyas. Additionally, there have been 220 murder cases, 376 weapons cases, 104 kidnappings, and 129 fights linked to the community.

Beyond these figures, the involvement of Rohingyas in organized crime such as drug dealing, human trafficking, extortion, and even obtaining fake citizenship to travel abroad has become a pressing issue. The situation is further complicated by the presence of 10-15 Rohingya terrorist groups, including the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the Arakan Solidarity Organization (RSO), operating within the refugee camps in Ukhia and Teknaf.

Since August 25, 2017, when the Rohingya began fleeing Myanmar’s military crackdown in Rakhine state, more than seven lakh Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh. This influx added to the existing four lakh Rohingya population, bringing the total to over 1.25 million across 33 shelter camps in Ukhia and Teknaf.

The violence and criminal activities within these camps are escalating. In a recent incident, three Rohingyas were killed in an attack at Madhurchhara shelter camp in Ukhia. The police have also made significant arrests, including the capture of four ARSA terrorists and the recovery of hand grenades, weapons, and ammunition. Additionally, a top ARSA commander was arrested in Ukhia with two pistols and ammunition, facing charges related to eight murders.

The murder of Muhibullah, the top leader of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), by ARSA terrorists on September 29, 2021, underscores the lethal nature of these groups. Muhibullah’s assassination sent shockwaves through the community and highlighted the ongoing struggle for power and control within the camps.

Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, emphasized the initial compassion shown by the people of Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong towards the fleeing Rohingyas. However, he also pointed out the rising crime rates and the camps becoming hotbeds for human trafficking, drug smuggling, and militant recruitment. He urged UN agencies and international partners to expedite the repatriation of approximately 1.3 million Rohingyas to Myanmar and address the ongoing conflict in Rakhine state.

Professor Delwar Hossain from Dhaka University highlighted the involvement of Rohingyas in organized crime and the financial burden on Bangladesh due to dwindling foreign aid. He stressed the need for strong international cooperation, involving the United Nations, China, India, and ASEAN, to facilitate the safe return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

Commander Arafat Islam of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) mentioned that regular operations are being conducted in coordination with other forces to combat crime in the camps. Numerous criminals have been apprehended, and efforts will continue to ensure law and order.

Data from the Chittagong Range DIG Office indicates that from August 25, 2017, to March 31, 2024, 3,336 cases were filed against Rohingyas in Ukhia and Teknaf. Of these, 2,407 cases were reported in Ukhia and 929 in Teknaf, with drug-related offenses accounting for over 60 percent of the total cases. There have been 376 cases involving illegal weapons and ammunition, making up more than 11 percent of the cases. Murders, totaling 220 cases, comprise 7 percent of the total.

A detailed analysis of the police data reveals a year-on-year increase in murder cases within the camps. In 2017, 22 individuals were accused in 8 murder cases. This number rose to 33 accused in 15 cases in 2018, 107 accused in 22 cases in 2019, 123 accused in 13 cases in 2020, 65 accused in 13 cases in 2021, and 237 accused in 20 cases in 2022. By August 21, 2023, there were 404 accused in 40 murder cases.

At the beginning of this year, police data showed that 872 individuals were arrested in various cases, with 858 from Cox’s Bazar and 14 from Noakhali. Additionally, 14 Rohingyas were detained in 10 cases in Asharyan Project-3 of Bhasanchar police station. In Ukhia, 628 arrests were made in 25 camp areas, while Teknaf saw 230 arrests in 8 camp areas.

The Armed Police Battalion (APBN) reported that at least 26 people were killed in clashes and shootings within the first five months of 2024. This includes nine deaths in the first 12 days of June alone. In May, seven Rohingyas were killed, followed by four in April, and eight in January and February combined. Throughout 2023, 64 people were killed, and 129 terrorists, including top ARSA leaders, were arrested.

The Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) reported that from January to May 2024, they arrested 3,354 Rohingyas attempting to infiltrate Bangladesh from Myanmar. These individuals included 848 women, 749 children, and 1,757 men, who were subsequently sent back to Myanmar.

The ongoing conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, particularly between the military and the Arakan Army, has intensified, prompting further attempts by Rohingyas to cross into Bangladesh. Analysts warn that if this trend continues, it could lead to even more complications for Bangladesh.

Additional DIG Mohammad Amir Zafar, commander of the Armed Police Battalion (8-APBN), stated that coordinated efforts with BGB and Coast Guard are in place to prevent illegal entries and maintain security along the border.

The rising crime rates among the Rohingya community pose a significant challenge for Bangladesh, requiring concerted efforts from both national and international stakeholders to address the root causes and find sustainable solutions for the displaced population.

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