Alleged Rohingya Drugs Peddlers Murdered in Cox’s Bazar

By Muktadir Rashid   7 January 2019

DHAKA—Bangladesh police on Saturday recovered the bullet-riddled bodies of two Rohingya men and seized 10,000 contraband pills on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive Road in the Tekhnaf sub-district of Cox’s Bazar, a town on the border with Myanmar.

Teknaf police officials said the murdered men were involved in peddling drugs from Myanmar and are identified as Khairul Amin, 35, and Abdullah, 40, of Block-D in Unchiprang refugee camp in Teknaf.

Both of them have lived in Unchiprang camp in Tekhnaf since their arrival to Bangladesh after fleeing the Myanmar military crackdown in northern Rakhine State which began on August 25, 2017.

Over 700,000 people have fled Myanmar following the military crackdown.

According to the district police headquarters, they are the first Rohingya to be killed over drug peddling since the latest influx of refugees began in August 2017.

Pradip Kumar Das, the officer-in-charge of Teknaf Police Station, claimed that locals informed them of finding the two bullet-riddled bodies at Mitapanirchara Point on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive Road at about 11 a.m. on Saturday.

A team of Teknaf police rushed to the spot, recovered the bodies and sent them to the district hospital in Cox’s Bazar for post-mortem examinations.

Pradip Kumar Das said the police seized 10,000 contraband yaba pills from their possession but no firearms were found.

The Myanmar-made yaba pill contains a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine and is widely used in Bangladesh in recent years following a crackdown on the sale of Indian-made cough-syrup called Phensedyl.

The district police additional superintendent Iqbal Hossain suspected “these two were killed in gangland fighting over sharing of money earned through drug peddling.”

However, he said investigations would be launched into their roles in the transporting of drugs from Myanmar.

Iqbal Hossain said many Rohingya are being “used” as drugs mules for moving yaba from Myanmar to Bangladesh through land and river routes.

A Rohingya leader of Unchiprang refugee camp confirmed that both men were living in the camp and said he heard they had been detained beforehand.

Talking to The Irrawaddy, Abdullah’s son Mohammed Arakan said his father was arrested by six to seven police officers near the camp in Unchiprang at about 8 p.m. on Friday, and since then his whereabouts was not known to them.

“We later identified him by seeing the photos on Facebook. We are not allowed to see the bodies,’ said the 20-year-old.

Khairul Amin’s brother Mohammed Rafiq claimed that police arrested his brother at the house of a suspected drug peddler Shah Alam in Block-A of the Unchiprang camp at about 9 p.m. on Friday.

He said his brother was arrested over enmity. Mohammed Rafiq said Shah Alam has been in prison for over a month.

Bangladesh authorities launched an anti-drug drive in May 2018, and over 300 people were killed in “gunfight” or “crossfire” and “bullet-riddled bodies” have been found in different parts in the country.

Several thousand alleged dealers were arrested in the aggressive campaign that some rights activists have compared to President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs in the Philippines.

Immediately after the launch of the anti-drug drive, on May 2, 2018, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Cox’s Bazar conducted raids in Balukhali camp in the Ukhiya sub-district and Jadimura camp in the Tekhnaf sub-district, arresting four “Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals” who had 30,000 yaba pills in their possession.

Over a dozen Rohingya, along with several Bangladeshi nationals, were arrested in separate operations carried out by RAB since then resulting in an overall seizure of 250,000 yaba pills.

In 2015, a small number of Rohingya refugees were killed in Cox’s Bazar for their alleged connection with human trafficking.