Tom Andrews, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, has claimed that there was “credible information” about the involvement of the country’s armed group Arsa in the killing, torture and abduction of Rohingya in a Cox’s Bazar refugee camp. He also said that he had discussed the matter with the concerned officials of Bangladesh.
Tom Andrews made the remarks at a press conference organized by the United Nations Office in Dhaka at a hotel in the capital on Sunday afternoon. This is the first time a UN envoy has commented on Arsa’s presence in the Rohingya camp.
Later in the evening, at a separate press conference at the Foreign Service Academy, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen asked about Tom Andrews’ claim about the presence of Arsa. If he can identify which Arsa, we will catch them and send them back to their country. We want to see who Arsa is. We are concerned about the safety of Rohingyas. For this, I am erecting a barbed wire fence in the Rohingya camp. So that no one can enter there freely. They dislike it. It’s weird! ‘
The presence of Myanmar’s armed group Arsar (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) in Cox’s Bazar has been loudly voiced since the assassination of Rohingya leader Muhibullah last September and six other Rohingya leaders the following month. They are also known as Al Yakin. Last Saturday, police dug up the floor of an abandoned house in Hakimpara Rohingya camp in Ukhia and recovered the body of a Rohingya leader. He had been missing for almost a year.
In a written statement at a news conference yesterday, UN Special Rapporteur Trump Andrews said, “I have received credible information about the killing, torture, abduction and intimidation of Rohingya refugees against Arsa members.”
Asked if he had shared credible information about Arsa with those concerned, the UN special rapporteur said: “I have had discussions with officials at various levels of security. The matter has been discussed with several officials of different levels involved in this regard. An investigation is underway in this regard. People have become aware of various activities there. These problems need to be addressed. But what I have discussed, I do not want to say here in detail. If there is any need to exchange information in this regard, I will definitely give it.
According to diplomatic sources, Tom Andrews has raised credible information about Arsa in discussions with representatives of various ministries and agencies, including the State Department. At that time, when the representatives of the Bangladesh government asked him for credible information, he could not tell them anything clearly.
A senior official who was present at one of the talks told Prothom Alo that if the UN special rapporteur had any information, it was requested to provide it to Bangladesh. Because, Bangladesh does not have any information so far that Arsa or any representative of Arsa is active in Cox’s Bazar camp. As a result, Bangladesh is keen to work on any ‘credible information’. Because, Bangladesh has concerns about the security of the camp.
Hundreds of terrorists have been nabbed by law enforcement since Muhibullah’s assassination on September 29. Weapons were recovered. Rohingya fishermen have claimed that a significant member of those arrested was an active member of Arsar. They claim that Arsa wants to come to the discussion by committing various acts of violence including murder to show their strength after the assassination of Muhibullah.
According to diplomatic and security analysts, the presence of Arsa in the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar indicates recent killings. They are supporters of the Myanmar army, not the Rohingyas.