Rohingya crisis

47 bodies wash ashore in 21 days at Shah Porir Dwip

13 Sep 2017, 22:00 | updated: 17 Sep 2017, 19:09

Body of a Rohingya woman washes ashore on Wednesday. Photo: Mohammad Ibrahim

Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar: At least 47 bodies believed to be those of Rohingya Muslims washed ashore at Shah Porir Dwip of Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar till September 13, highlighting the risks many of the persecuted minority are taking to flee violence in neighbouring Myanmar.

The Rohingyas are now known to have died making the hazardous and death-defying crossing on flimsy boats since a crisis erupted on August 24 in Rakhine State.

Fazlul Haque, a member of Ward No. 9 at Teknaf’s Sabrang, said that a total of eight bodies on Wednesday washed up on the island shore, including women and children.

He said several were from a Rohingya boat that capsized on Tuesday night near the border village of Shah Porir Dwip on the Naf River estuary that divides Bangladesh and Myanmar.

‘That started from August 24. I can’t sleep at night after that. I heard now and then that boats had capsized and someone had gone missing. Later dead bodies of Rohingya were found. People call me first after getting dead bodies. I have to run whenever people inform me about dead bodies,’ narrated the ward member of Shah Porir Dwip.

He said, ‘There is a mosque beside the jetty. I lay the dead bodies to eternal rest after performing namaz-e-janaza along with the mosque committee members and local people.’

Bodies of two children and a woman were also recovered from estuary of Naf near the Shah Porir Dwip in the night. Later, police recovered bodies of two men and a child from the Jaliapara area, added Fazlul Haque.

The local representative of Shah Porir Dwip said, ‘At least 47 dead bodies were recovered from August 24 to September 13. All are Rohingyas. They face the unfortunate death while crossing the river through the perilous journey with flimsy boats. There are 19 dead bodies were recovered at my ward and another 28 from ward no seven.’

‘It should be stopped. I can’t take it anymore,’ said Fazlul Haque.

Local people claimed that bodies of the men bore stab wounds made by sharp weapons. It has been assumed that they were crossing the river after being tortured by the Myanmar military and local Buddhist terrorists.

Boats arrive each day after crossing the Bay of Bengal of the Naf river. The majority of the victims are children. Some of the bodies had bullet wounds.

Police and border guards said up to six overloaded boats had capsized in the past two weeks, mainly were small boats or rickety fishing vessels not intended to carry passengers.

An estimated 3,70,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence and death in neighbouring Myanmar since 25 August. At least 457,000 hungry and traumatized refugees have sought refuge in Bangladesh’s border areas Ukhia and Teknaf since October 2016. They have joined many thousands of refugees from previous violent episodes in Myanmar.