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Many Rohingya refugees whose families are included in the relocation list complain that their names were put in the list despite their disagreement, while others said that they were shocked to be informed that they are in the list.

“Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 refugees have already expressed their willingness to be relocated to Bhashan Char island,” the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mr. Md. Mahbub Alam told AFP, adding that “the number is rising”.

To confirm the situation directly, RVision contacted many refugees and the responses that came are different from what the refugee commissioner told the news agency.

An activist from the camp said “The collecting list is really roaring in camps.”

On Oct 18, the CICs called camp heads (majhis) for a meeting in their office and told to start collecting list of people in camps willing to move to the islet.

“Some majhis listed people even without letting them know,” he added, for example, “In Block 29, camp 8 East”.

They listed over seventy families to one hundred. Washington Post quoted the top government administrator in Cox’s Bazar, Kamal Hossain as saying “I have a list of 100 families comprising of some 7,000 refugees.” But it doesn’t sound logical.

Reportedly camp heads (majhis) have listed those families whom they personally dislikes for some reasons like personal conflicts or other.

Many people we interviewed said they will prefer to return to Myanmar rather than to go to the “death island” as they expressed.

Refugees are also worrying that the relocation may have them complete stuck in limbo and delay their repatriation.

A. Karim, an Iman of a mosque in camp said that “Bangladesh is tightening its grip on us and getting tougher day by day. Our CIC threatened us with punishment if we don’t move to the island.”

The man indicated to the mobile phone ban and the barbed wire fence plan.

On October 16, 2019, the CIC in Camp No. 16, Shobiullah Hada announced at every block that Rohingya refugees are not allowed to use Bangladeshi SIM cards nor Myanmar ones. If refugees are found using local SIM card, they will have had their SIM cards and mobile phones taken away. If they are using Myanmar network, they will get jailed.

Monzur A., a refugee, said that when he went to collect his reliefs, he was told that the reliefs will be blocked if they disagree relocation. He added that “Either relocation or (premature) repatriation, both are tribulation.”

The Bhasan Char (literally ‘floating’ in Bengali) islet is called as it is and prone to flooding, where Bangladesh is planning to relocate Rohingya refugees in collaboration with China. As one of the refugee activists has told, the relocation may cause delay in repatriation process that will serve China’s interest to prey on Rohingya lands in Arakan for its business projects like Shwe Gas Pipeline.

Another refugee, on condition of anonymity, said “the island where none of the 165 million population (of Bangladesh) dare live, but Bangladesh is trying to test its inhabitability on the cost of our lives.” This refugee further suggests, “Instead of this remote muddy island, the hill tracts and other mountainous areas along the border will suits relocation of the refugees better and will be safer.”

If refugees are relocated to this island, there is a high chance they will fall prey to human traffickers and smugglers and a possibility of increase in boat people and piracy at the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.

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