Amnesty International says Rohingya Muslims are being “squeezed by the callous actions of both the Myanmar and Bangladesh authorities.”
The minority group is reportedly being subjected to collective punishment in Myanmar, where they are not allowed to work legally. However, when they try to flee to Bangladesh officials there are said to be violating international law by pushing them back.
Amnesty claims this goes against the principle of ‘non-refoulement’. The act of forcibly returning people to a place or country where they would be at real risk of grave human rights violations is absolutely prohibited under international law.
Many, such as Humayun Kabir, attempt to flee into Bangladesh across the Naf river. He lost his three children in the crossing.
“There were a group of people from our village who crossed the river by boat to come to here, but suddenly the boat sank in the river. Many could swim and come to the bank. But seven people are missing including my three children,” he said.
Shawkat Ara, a young Rohingya girl from Myanmar, has also lost family members.
“The military took away my father and uncles. I don’t know what happened to them, or if they are alive or not, and as I saw they were tortured to save me from them, I reached this house this morning by crossing the river by boat,” she explained.
The United Nations warns the “root cause” inside Myanmar must be addressed and accuses authorities there of an “ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority” in the country.
John McKissick, Head of UN High Commission for Refugees’ sub office in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, added:
“So it’s up to the government of Bangladesh to put pressure on the government of Myanmar to return the situation to normal so that these Rohingyas who have arrived recently can go back in safety and with dignity.”
The Rohingya are attempting to escape punishment in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine state. Reports suggest security forces there are carrying out collective reprisal attacks following an assault on three border posts in early October, which killed nine police officers on the frontier.