Murders spook Rohingya in Bangladesh camps

The Kutupalong Makeshift Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, which houses thousands of Rohingya who fled fighting in neighbouring Myanmar's Rakhine state.
The Kutupalong Makeshift Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, which houses thousands of Rohingya who fled fighting in neighbouring Myanmar's Rakhine state.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUTUPALONG MAKESHIFT CAMP • As fellow Muslims were celebrating the end of Ramadan late last month, Ms Noor Ankis and her neighbours buried her husband at the refugee camp in Bangladesh where he had stayed for years.

Mr Mohammed Ayub's body - his throat slit and hands tied behind his back - had been found dumped in a desolate corner of the camp for Rohingya Muslims who had fled neighbouring Myanmar.

Mr Ayub, 31, was one of three Rohingya men whose bodies were found over the past few weeks.

Aid workers and long-time residents say the incidents, along with the stabbing of a community leader, amount to the worst violence in the camps since the Rohingya began fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar more than a quarter of a century ago.

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Refugees, whose numbers have swelled since fighting late last year in Myanmar's Rakhine state, also report masked men roaming the dark streets of the two camps in Kutupalong at night. Bangladesh police and aid workers say a struggle for control of supplies to the camps is behind the violence.

"They beat me and my sister and dragged him out of the house," Ms Ankis said. "The kidnappers called me from his number and threatened to kill me too. I'm also getting threats in the name of al-Yaqin."

She was referring to militant group Harakah al-Yaqin, whose attacks on Myanmar border police posts last October prompted a security crackdown in which troops have been accused of murdering and raping Rohingya civilians.

Police say it is unclear whether the insurgent group, which now wants to be known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, was involved in the violence in the camps.

More than 75,000 Rohingya have fled north-western Rakhine state to Bangladesh over recent months, joining tens of thousands already there.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Murders spook Rohingya in Bangladesh camps'. Print Edition | Subscribe