They Escaped Certain Death Only to Face It Again

For some Rohingya refugees, assassins lurk
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2021 1:00 PM CST
They Escaped Certain Death Only to Face It Again
A view of a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh.   (Getty Images)

As the New York Times tells it, they've gone from one hell to the next. The first would be Myanmar, the country Rohingya Muslims fled en masse in 2017 to escape ethnic cleansing. Where most have landed is Bangladesh, which is home to what is the biggest single refugee camp in the world. But as Hannah Beech writes, there is little safety there: "militants search for recruits, drug traffickers roam, and kidnappers prey on women and children." Add assassinations to that list. The biggest militant group operating in the camp is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which has a long list of foes: the Myanmar security forces who have brought violence against the Rohingya, but also the human rights workers and other civilians running the camps, a job they believe should fall to them. And they have a hit list.

Assassins thought to be linked to the ARSA have recently killed at least eight people in the encampment who have spoken out against the group. Prior to their deaths, some told authorities their names appeared on a list the ARSA had allegedly compiled. Beech spoke with one community organizer who says he learned he has a target on his back. "I came to Bangladesh from Myanmar because I would be killed there," says Mohammed. "Here, also, there are no guarantees for a safe life." The ARSA has denied involvement, though the victims' families dispute that, and men linked to the group have been arrested over the killings. It's a reality that has some Rohingya warming to a plan they've long fought: to move once more to Bhasan Char, an inhospitable island in the Bay of Bengal that human rights groups liken to a floating prison. But as Beech explains, "ARSA has less sway there." (Read the full piece.)

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