Asaduzzaman Khan Denies Allegations Against Armed Police Battalion Over Arbitrary Arrests of Rohingya Refugees

Asaduzzaman Khan, the home minister of Bangladesh, refuted the allegations of HRW (Human Rights Watch) against the armed forces’ engagement in harassment, arbitrary arrests, and extortion of Rohingya Refugees. The home minister said the reports are baseless and not based on facts. He said HRW should bring out solid evidence before pointing fingers at the armed forces.

According to the latest news today, HRW released the report on January 17, 2023, after interviewing more than 40 Rohingya refugees. Around 10 refugees said they are detained on false allegations of trafficking gaba. 

Donors should press for investigating alleged abuses by APBn

Given the increase in alleged abuses by APBn (Armed Police Battalion) against Rohingya Refugees, the donor governments should force Bangladesh to investigate the acts of APBn. Rohingya communities are already facing the atrocities of armed groups and criminal gangs. They should press for improved protection of refugees living in the Cox Bazar’s refugee camps.

The protection of Rohingya refugees, who live in camps, are assigned to APBn in July 2020. The safety of Rohingya communities is under threat because of oversight of APBn over criminal activity and rising police abuses. It is also alleged that APBn officers colluded with gangs and armed groups and turned a blind eye to the abuses and rising criminal activity.

An Asian researcher at HRW, Shanya Bauchner, said the police abuses in the Cox’s Bazar camps increased the suffering of Rohingya refugees. Shanya said the authorities in Bangladesh should immediately order an inquiry into the alleged atrocities of police against the refugees and put an end to the wrongful detention and widespread extortion. Also, guilty police officers should be punished to prevent such atrocities against Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Demands hefty sums to avoid arrest

According to the findings by HRW, the police officers demanded up to $400 to avoid the arrest and up to $1,000 for the release of family members detained by them. It forced the family members to borrow money or their valuables to pay legal expenses or offer bribes to the police authorities. 

Police also targeted Rohingya refugees for sharing information online about harassment by APBn. A 27-year-old health volunteer working with the international organization, Sayed Hossein said 30 APBn officers visited his home at 10 PM on July 25, 2022, confiscated his laptop, and arrested him. They informed him that he was arrested for social media posts against an APBn officer. After taking him to the police station, they asked for a bribe. The police officers wrongly implicated him by taking a photograph of him with ‘yaba’ tablets because his family failed to arrange a bribe of $500.

Sayed said he pleaded with the police officers to stop taking the photos to protect his future. They said Rohingyas like Sayed do not have any future. The police officers posted his photos with yaba tablets on social media and detained him illegally for 41 days.

BNN News sources says several Rohingya refugees are working as teachers or employed with NGOs. Humanitarian organizations said atrocities by APBn are affecting their operations and staff. Hence, they demand framing rights, security policy in Bangladesh, and protect Rohingya refugees.