Dhaka, Bangladesh: Thousands of Rohingya Muslims staged “unruly” protests against living conditions on a cyclone-prone island off the coast of Bangladesh, where they were relocated from large camps on the mainland, according to authorities.
Since December, Bangladesh has relocated 18,000 refugees from the Cox’s Bazar region, where 850,000 people live in filthy and overcrowded conditions, to the low-lying silt island of Bhashan Char.
The majority of them had escaped a 2017 military onslaught in Myanmar that UN investigators said was carried out with “genocidal intent.”
According to authorities, the demonstration on Monday drew up to 4,000 people and took place in conjunction with a UN refugee agency inspection (UNHCR).
“The Rohingya who are there became unruly the moment the UNHCR representatives landed (on the island) by helicopter today,” local police chief Alamgir Hossain told AFP.
“They broke the glass on warehouses by throwing rocks. They came to the police… Their demand is they don’t want to live here.”
Bricks were thrown, according to one Rohingya man, and police blocked them from accessing a building where UNHCR officials were present.
Several Rohingyas told AFP that they were assaulted and pressured into accepting to be relocated after the first transfer on December 4 to the flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal.
Rights organizations have echoed the claims.
The Bangladesh government has denied the charges, claiming that the island is safe and that the amenities on the island are significantly superior to those in the Cox’s Bazar camps.
The UN stated that it was not a part of the process.