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Bangladesh sending more Rohingya Muslims to remote island

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Red Cross expert speaks to members of the Rohingya community at Bhahsan Char Island, in Bangladesh, on November 23, 2021. (Photo via AFP)

Bangladesh has started to send more Rohingya Muslim refugees to a controversial facility on a remote island.

The country's deputy refugee commissioner, Moozzem Hossain, told AFP on Wednesday that 2,000 Rohingya would be transferred to Bhashan Char Island this week.

"Navy ships will bring them to the island on Thursday," he said.

The refugees being relocated are among more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled genocide in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

Hossain claimed that all relocations were completely voluntary, but several refugees said they were being forced to move to the flood-prone island.

According to one Rohingya community leader, Bangladeshi authorities told him and his peers to each provide lists of at least five families to be relocated, AFP reported.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) also said on Tuesday that Rohingya leaders were being coerced into persuading camp residents to move to the remote island. HRW urged Dhaka to halt further relocations until it could guarantee freedom of movement for the refugees.

Bangladesh constructed a network of shelters on the island to relocate 850,000 Rohingyas, who are packed in cramped camps in Cox's Bazar, near Myanmar's border.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017.

The Rohingya are widely seen as illegal immigrants in Myanmar and denied the right of citizenship. Bangladesh refuses to grant them citizenship, too.

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