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Islamists call on Bangladesh to let in persecuted Rohingyas

Nov 25. 2016
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By Deutsche Presse Agentur

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Dhaka - Several thousand Islamists on Friday marched in Bangladeshi streets calling on the government to allow Rohingya Muslims fleeing a military offensive in neighbouring Myanmar to cross the border for shelter.

"It is our duty to provide shelter to oppressed Muslims. We call on the government to keep the border open to let them in with refugee status," said Junayed Babunagari, a leader of Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh, exhorting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a rally in the port city of Chittagong.

Activists of Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh, a radical Islamist group campaigning for the introduction of Islamic law, also marched in the capital Dhaka after Friday prayers to protest what they believe is the repression of the Muslim minority group by the Myanmar army in the Rakhine state.

Babunagari threatened a march towards Myanmar unless the "repression of Muslims" is stopped.

The group announced a rally for December 2 in the south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox's Bazar bordering Myanmar to protest what the Islamists say is an ethnic cleansing operation against Muslims by the Burmese army.

Persecuted in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, many Rohingya Muslims entered neighbouring Bangladesh despite the fact that Dhaka had been trying to prevent their influx.

"The Rohingyas will be sent back to their homes once the situation is normalized," Major General Abul Hossain, chief of Bangladesh's border force, told reporters after a visit to the bordering district.

Bangladeshi guards, on alert after Nay Pyi Taw launched a counter-insurgency operation in Myanmar's Rakhine State, pushed more than 400 Rohingyas back into Myanmar as they attempted to cross different border points in the past week.

More than 100 Rohingya Muslims have reportedly been killed in the Myanmar's counter-insurgency sweeps.

Nearly 29,000 Rohingya documented as refugees have lived in two squalid camps in the Bangladeshi border district of Cox's Bazar, ever since the 1990s, when they were driven out of Myanmar.

The number of undocumented Rohingya living in Bangladesh is estimated to be between 200,000 and 500,000.

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