Eleven Rohingya Arrested for Beating German Journalists, Bangladeshi Aides

By Muktadir Rashid   22 February 2019

DHAKA—At least 11 Rohingya people were arrested on Friday for allegedly beating three German television journalists and their local fixer at noon on Thursday while they were making a documentary at the Lambashia Camp in Kutupalong, in the Ukhiya sub-district of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Three employees of German broadcaster ARD—cameraman Gunder Stegner, 61, Stefanie Appel, 49, and Ernico Leube, 44—and Bangladeshi fixer Mohammad Shihabuddin were beaten and had to seek treatment at a nearby hospital.

A police constable and the driver of the microbus carrying the foreign nationals were also injured in the incident.

Shihabuddin, who also works as the head of production at Bangladeshi private television channel Boishaki, filed a complaint with the Ukhia police station, leading to the arrest of 11 Rohingya people. They were sent to court on Friday.

Kazi Dider Ul Alam, the court inspector at Cox’s Bazar district headquarters, said the Judicial Magistrate’s Court sent all of the 11 Rohingya to jail.

German Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Fahrenhollz said in a tweet on Friday that, “It happened because of a misunderstanding. They are well and safe now”.

Cox’s Bazar Police Superintendent ABM Masud Hossain said that six persons including four journalists were injured when a Rohingya mob attacked them at Lombashia, part of the Kutupalong Rohingya camp, in the afternoon.

The journalists were working on a documentary film for German national television when they were attacked, the police official said.

Law enforcement officials rescued them and took them to a local hospital. The Rohingya mob also damaged their vehicle and camera.

Police officials later recovered the Germans’ missing mobile phones, electronic equipment and other items that reportedly went missing during the attack.

Rezaul Karim, who is in charge of the Kutupalong camp, said the journalists were filming a segment for their documentary on the Rohingya crisis when they picked up two minor girls aged about 8 to 10 in their micro-bus in order to give them new clothes.

At one stage, the girls started crying, the officials said. Some Rohingya suspected the girls were being trafficked and led an attack on the foreigners, injuring them all. The police constable was injured seriously. The mob also damaged the micro-bus, witnesses said.

Meanwhile,  in a statement, the newly formed Rohingya organization Rohingya Refugee Committee, Bangladesh, stated on Friday that “We Rohingya in Cox’s district, Bangladesh Camps, are extremely concerned [about] the attack on journalists.”

The statement reads, “On February 21, at 12:30 pm, three foreigners known as German Journalists took two Rohingya children with their vehicle from camp 4 to Camp 1 E.”

“The Rohingya community assumed that the children were being trafficked, as it has happened frequently in camps. People asked the driver and interpreter why the children had been taken with them but they did not explain well to the people. So, some emotional persons suspected them of being [traffickers] and protested against trafficking,” it reads.

“We are extremely sorry [about] the attack on the journalists, which … happened because of a misunderstanding. Therefore, we would kindly request that Bangladesh government, NGOs, and agencies to be calm on this issue; we are also providing awareness to people to [remain] calm in future situations. This is not the community’s fault only, but [shows the] need for more security inside the camps. It will be better if the government deploys more security,” the statement reads.

“We would like to have more engagement between the community, NGOs, and authorities about security issues inside the camps,” it concludes.