Thursday, 16 July, 2020


Bangladesh orders to stop mobile phone services for Rohingya refugees

Bangladesh orders to stop mobile phone services for Rohingya refugees Bangladesh orders to stop mobile phone services for Rohingya refugees
Melba Vasquez | 06 September, 2019, 03:30

On Sunday, the BTRC issued its order to phone service providers "to ensure that Rohingya people will not get any facility of using mobile phones".

Authorities have detected that 900,000 mobile phone SIM cards were being used by the refugees "in and around the Rohingya camps", Haque said. "We've asked the operators to take action to stop it", he said, saying the decision was made on "security grounds". He said they have reports that people are present there who pose a threat to national security, but would not elaborate. Last month, a ruling party member was killed in the area and police blamed Rohingya for the murder.

According to the police, the move follows an outbreak of violence in recent weeks at the camps.

"They have also been asked to inform us by September 9 what measures they are taking to withdraw the SIMs that are being used by the Rohingya community and what they will do to stop selling SIMs to them", he added. On October 10 in 2018, the BTRC asked all mobile operators to restrict their networks in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border areas as well as block networks in and around Rohingya camps.

In 2017, the Bangladeshi government banned telecommunications companies from selling SIM cards to Rohingya entirely.

The US ambassador said that his government was beside Bangladesh in the Rohingya situation and would continue the support.

The decision also takes place in the context of a second failed attempt to repatriate the Rohingya back to Myanmar, for which nobody in the Rohyingya refugee community signed up.

"I have my family there".

Haque said Rohingya refugees usually would contact their relatives left behind in Rakhine using mobile phones taking advantage of Bangladeshi cell towers along the border.

Toughening its stance further, Bangladesh today banned two more global NGOs for allegedly instigating Rohingya refugees to oppose repatriation to Myanmar.

Last year, a United Nations fact-finding mission said the 2017 military campaign in Rakhine State was orchestrated with "genocidal intent", and recommended charging the military's Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and five other generals with the "gravest crimes under global law". Myanmar has rejected the report and any suggestion its forces did anything wrong.

Efforts to begin repatriating 3,450 Rohingya cleared by Myanmar failed on August 22 after none agreed to go, nearly a year after a similar effort failed amid protests.

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