Saudis ‘deporting’ Rohingyas to Bangladesh

Prothom Alo English Desk | Update:

Rohingya detainees handcuffed by Saudi immigration police ahead of their deportation to Bangladesh—Photo: MEE/SuppliedSaudi Arabia has continued to deport Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh, reports Middle East Eye.

The London-based news portal has pointed out that the Gulf kingdom is doing so despite calls from the United Nations to give members of the stateless minority refuge there.

Footage sent to the portal on Friday showed Rohingyas who had been detained indefinitely by Saudi Arabia for several years, handcuffed and en route to Jeddah airport.

The detained Rohingyas can be seen on a bus in the middle of the Saudi desert, alongside other detainees of the Shumaisi detention centre, set for deportation, said the Middle East Eye.

MEE could not confirm whether the other detainees inside the bus were also Rohingyas.

Last month, it added, UN special rapporteur Yanghee Lee condemned Saudi Arabia for deporting 13 Rohingyas refugees to Bangladesh.

During a press conference in Bangladesh, Lee reportedly urged Riyadh to offer the stateless Rohingyas sanctuary, instead of sending them to a third country.

“India and Saudi Arabia must ensure that Rohingyas within their borders are protected and that their status as refugees, unable to return to Myanmar, is recognised,” Lee was quoted to have said, after a 10-day visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in southern Bangladesh.

She also criticised the Bangladeshi government for imprisoning 13 Rohingya men last year, following their forced deportation to Bangladesh by Saudi Arabia, despite coming from Myanmar.

“The fair trial rights of these men should be fully upheld, and authorities must recall that this group also fled persecution in Myanmar.”

Passports via forged documents

Middle East Eye quoted human rights groups and activists as saying that hundreds of Rohingyas had been detained indefinitely by Saudi Arabia.

Scores of them have resorted to obtaining passports from people smugglers, often via forged documents, following Myanmar’s ban on members of their community obtaining Burmese passports, the MEE report said.

It mentioned that many Rohingyas locked up in the Shumaisi detention centre came to Saudi Arabia on Bangladeshi passports, while others entered on passports from different South Asian countries, including Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Nepal.

Upon arrival, the refugees are said to have their fingerprints taken and registered to the passport they used upon entry.

This, according to MEE, means scores of Rohingyas have been registered on passports obtained via fake documents.

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