Dhaka: The Bangladeshi prime minister visited a refugee camp that has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees and demanded that Myanmar “take steps to take their nationals back.”
“We will not tolerate injustice,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at a rally Tuesday at the Kutupalong refugee camp, near the border town of Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district.
On Monday night, she accused Buddhist-majority Myanmar of committing “atrocities” and said that Bangladesh had long protested the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
At least 313,000 Rohingya have flooded into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts, prompting Myanmar’s military to retaliate with what it called “clearance operations” to root out the rebels.
The crisis has drawn sharp criticism from around the world. Germany has halted several aid projects with Myanmar in protest, and Iran’s supreme leader called the killing of Muslims a political disaster for Myanmar. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also urged other Muslim countries to “increase political, economic and commercial pressures” on Myanmar to stop the violence.
The United Nations human-rights chief said Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya minority was facing what seems like “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” U.N. rights investigators have been barred from entering the country.
“The Myanmar government should stop pretending that the Rohingya are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Monday in Geneva, calling it a “complete denial of reality.”
Meanwhile, a Rohingya villager in Myanmar said security forces had arrived Monday in the village of Pa Din village, firing guns, setting new fires to homes and driving hundreds of Rohingya to flee.
“People were scared and running out of the village,” the villager said. Myanmar police disputed that, saying the houses were burned by terrorists they called Bengalis. That term is used derisively by many in Myanmar to describe the Rohingya, who they say migrated illegally from neighboring Bangladesh, though many Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for generations.
Bangladesh has said it would free 2,000 acres of land for a new camp in Cox’s Bazar district, to help shelter newly arrived Rohingya. The government was also fingerprinting and registering new arrivals.
In the past two weeks, the government hospital in Cox’s Bazar has been overwhelmed by Rohingya patients, with 80 arriving in the last two weeks suffering gunshot wounds as well as bad infections.
At least three Rohingya have been wounded in land mine blasts, and dozens have drowned when boats capsized during sea crossings.
Myanmar’s authorities said more than a week ago that some 400 Rohingya—mostly insurgents—had died in clashes with troops, but it has offered no updated death toll since.
Before Aug. 25, Bangladesh had already been housing some 500,000 Rohingya who arrived after bloody anti-Muslim rioting in 2012 or amid earlier persecution drives in Myanmar.