Thousands of Rohingyas Protest in Bhasan Char Island

Thousand Rohingyas in Bhasan Char Island demonstrated to be returned to Cox’s Bazaar. They confessed that their life suffered in Bhasan Char. Promises that we would be able to work on the island, farm, and fish were not fulfilled.

Rohingya in Bhasan Char
The Rohingyas are transferred to Bhasan Char. (Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)

ACTNews, BANGLADESH – Around four thousand Rohingya refugees staged an “unruly” protest when the senior official from the United Nations of High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) arrived in remote Bhasan Char Island to visit the settlement. They made speeches in front of the building where the official was visiting, Monday (5/31/2021).

During the protest, the refugees asked to be returned to the refugee camps in Cox's Bazaar. “The Rohingya who are there became unruly the moment the UNHCR representative landed (on the island) by helicopter today. They broke the glass on warehouses by throwing rocks. They came to the police… They demand that they don’t want to live here,” said local police chief Alamgir Hossan, quoted by Aljazeera.

The refugees claimed their life is more miserable in Bhashan Char. Promises from the relevant authorities for the welfare of Rohingya refugees in Bhasan Char have not been kept.

One man said that he left the island by swimming and then boarding a Bangladeshi fishing boat waiting for him, paying the owner $300. He said that before agreeing to move to the island, he had been assured that he would be able to return to his family in Cox’s Bazar after two weeks.

“The Rohingyas in Bhashan Char are given only food and no other facilities. Promises that we would be able to work on the island, farm, and fish were not fulfilled. The Rohingyas are in dire straits there. The Cox’s Bazar (camps) is a thousand times better than Bhashan Char,” he said.

The local authorities said that at least 49 Rohingya, including women and children, have been arrested in recent weeks after fleeing the island and trying to return to Cox’s Bazar. However, Rohingya leaders say that scores, if not hundreds, of people from their community, have escaped and have since returned to Cox’s Bazar.

Since December 2020, the Bangladeshi government has moved around 18,000 Rohingya refugees in refugee camps in Cox's Bazaar to the small island of Bhasan Char.

The Rohingyas have fled a brutal military offensive in Myanmar in 2017. They fled to various countries, but the majority of them went to Bangladesh. Some 850,000 Rohingya have taken refuge in camps in Cox's Bazaar. Bangladeshi authorities also plan to move 100,000 of them to Bhashan Char. A small island about 63 kilometers from the mainland.[]