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Exposing Coercion: The Intimidation Tactics Being Used to Force Rohingya Refugees Back to Myanmar
A Rohingya Elderly Woman's Harrowing Encounter with Authorities in Desperate Attempt to Force Repatriation
In a chilling interview (full transcript below), a Rohingya elderly woman bravely recounts her encounter with Bangladeshi refugee camp authorities and NSI (National Security Intelligence) officials, shedding light on the alarming extent of coercion employed to compel their return to Myanmar. The woman vividly describes the threats, intimidation, and the ominous presence of physical violence, as she and her community face mounting pressure to abandon their temporary refuge and return to Myanmar. This firsthand account offers a sobering glimpse into the harrowing realities being endured by Rohingya refugees who are on the repatriation list.
The specific threats mentioned in the interview include:
Forcible Repatriation: The authorities informed the Rohingya refugees that they will be forcefully sent back to Myanmar, regardless of their objections or concerns.
Physical Violence: The woman mentions the presence of physical violence, stating that if they do not leave within the designated timeframe, they will be forcefully sent back by "beating and beating" them. (Others have also alleged the threat of physical beatings).”
Ration Card Confiscation: According to the woman, she mentions an incident where an individual's Data Card (Ration card) was photographed. The implication is that if this person refuses to return, the authorities would cancel their ration card, leaving them unable to access essential food supplies.
The transcript of the interview is given below. Interview date: 28 May 2023
Camp-in-Charge Meeting date 28 May 2023, Camp 26.
Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
We received a call to attend a meeting from the CiC (Camp-in-Charge) at Shalbagan. The CiC had also contacted us previously when the Myanmar delegation visited. At that time, we refused to go back and left. Today, we were summoned to attend with our Data Cards, and we complied.
They informed us that we will be forcefully sent back to Myanmar. They insisted that we must return, stating that this is not our country. Even if we have to stay in a camp in Myanmar, we are expected to go back. In response, we raised concerns, expressing our refusal to go to camps. The rights we are seeking include reclaiming our original homeland and obtaining our Nationality Cards. Approximately 1,200,000 people have fled, and if all these people willingly return, we will also go back. However, we, the 1,100 people, refuse to return as we are severely persecuted in Myanmar.
If our rights are granted, we will willingly return. As we voiced these concerns, they asked, "Who can take you back after you have been here for six years? Who has been able to send you home? Which audacious foreign government has been able to help you? You came to our country, and in our opinion, you must go back. Myanmar has come to repatriate you. Therefore, you have to go back.”
They said, "You have to go back, regardless of whether it is to camps or any other place." "You must return to your country," they explicitly stated. We said, if we were to return right now, we would face the same persecution as before. Considering that you have provided us with protection for six years, we beg you to assist us in reclaiming our rights. We earnestly request your support.
They replied, "What rights? What are your rights here? You must go back to your country." When we asked one or two questions, they demanded Data Cards from us. "Hey, snatch the Data Card from that person." Similarly, when an elderly man asked questions, his Data Card was photographed. They took him away somewhere. They were targeting us. We were scared and we quickly came away. They were saying, "Hey, arrest and detain her." They said things like that. "Hand over your Data Card!" We were afraid.
This is the host government. Since we are staying here temporarily, we have to obey them. Therefore, I request the world to do whatever they can for the sake of God. Please do whatever you can. It is likely that we may be called and subjected to beatings within two to three days. They are telling us that we must leave within two to three days. If we don't leave, they will forcefully send us back by beating and beating us.