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Why is Bangladesh Government upset by my tweet?
Twitter's Legal Department has informed me that a "Government Organization of Bangladesh" has requested the removal of one of my tweets claiming it violates Bangladesh's law.
Six years ago, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh made a compassionate decision to allow hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees into the country, and her empathy was visible as she embraced children and women in the Rohingya camps. Notably, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's photos embracing refugee children and women are reminiscent of those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel taking selfies with Syrian refugees. Both leaders displayed empathy and compassion towards refugees in their respective countries. However, the treatment of refugees in Bangladesh appears to have taken a different turn in recent times.
While Sheikh Hasina's decision to allow the Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh was laudable, her government's current stance has been criticised for not upholding the principles of voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity, which is essential for any durable solution. The change in narrative by her ministers raises concerns about the future of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and their treatment in the country. The stark contrast between the current stance and Sheikh Hasina's earlier display of empathy and compassion, which earned her the honorific title of 'Mother of Humanity', highlights the complexity and challenge of refugee issues and the crucial need for sustained efforts to address them.
Bangladesh has never consulted the Rohingya regarding repatriation matters stretching back to 1978. The program has always been a coerced move, with little to no input from the Rohingya themselves. To repeat, this lack of consultation and transparency is a troubling pattern that has persisted for decades. In effect, the Rohingya, who have faced discrimination, persecution, and violence amounting to genocide in Myanmar (according to the US administration), have been denied a voice in their own repatriation.
The offending tweet
My recent tweet highlighted a disturbing example of the deceptive practices faced by Rohingya refugees. Laila Begum's interview revealed that she was promised to be on the resettlement list for the USA for 1.5 years. During this time, she received regular visits from the Camp in Charge and the Majhee (the camp headman). However, in reality, the plan was to send her to one of the border camps in Myanmar, where Rohingya villages had been destroyed by the military's violent clearance campaign in 2017, and later bulldozed to erase all trace of violence and erect pre-fabricated cabins. Watch the video in the tweet below with subtitles.
In a report by Human Rights Watch, 15 Rohingya who participated in the "Pilot Repatriation" program were interviewed, revealing how they were lied to, deceived, or coerced by Bangladesh administrators into meeting with a delegation of Myanmar junta officials. Laila Begum's interview adds to this, revealing how she was promised resettlement in the USA for 1.5 years, but on the day of the pilot repatriation, she was informed that the plan was to send her to one of the border camps in Myanmar. She refused to go, stating, "We said we will not go." At the risk of repetition, here is the passage from the report:
“Rohingya told Human Rights Watch that they were lied to, deceived, or otherwise coerced by Bangladesh administrators into meeting with a recent delegation of Myanmar junta officials as part of a “pilot repatriation” effort to return about 1,000 refugees. Some were told the meetings concerned possible resettlement to a third country.”
Again at the risk of repetition, Laila Begum’s interview says nothing more. Nothing less. In fact, Laila Begum's interview is clear and concise in conveying her decision. She states, "For 1.5 years they said we were on the list to go to the USA. Whenever we asked which list, they said the American list." However, on the day of the Pilot repatriation, she was informed, "this was the Burma repatriation list." In response, she unequivocally declared, "We said we will not go."
The Bangladesh authorities are eager to avoid such messages from the Rohingya, as they view the Chinese-backed pilot repatriation plan as essential. Hence, they requested Twitter to remove my tweet, but I have yet to receive any explanation from Twitter on the basis of the complaint or which law I might have violated.
Perhaps I have been fortunate that the “Government organization of Bangladesh” has been tolerant of my critical tweets and articles, as I have tweeted about potentially troublesome topics without any complaints until now.
This year, I exposed the attack on No Man's Land in November 2022 as a premeditated joint operation between Bangladesh and Myanmar, not a drug raid. Additionally, I revealed that the complete destruction of No Man’s Land and the displacement of 4500 people in January of this year was not solely due to internecine fighting between ARSA and RSO, as claimed by the Bangladesh government, but was actually part of a plan instigated by Bangladesh in collaboration with Myanmar. If justice were to be served, there should be legal consequences. Furthermore, I exposed the involvement of Ko Ko Linn, the head of Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), in the call for mass killings, which likely did not sit well with authorities. Finally, I reported that despite the calls for a full and transparent investigation by Secretary Blinken and the UN following the murder of Mohibullah, a prominent Rohingya leader, certain high-ranking members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation (ARSA) responsible for the killing were not put on trial, but were granted amnesty and transferred to the remote island of Bhasan Char.