New York-based the Human RightsWatch on Wednesday urged the government to stop forcibly returning ethnicRohingyas fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar.
"It's tragically ironic thatBangladesh has closed its border and is making forced returns on World RefugeeDay. This is a reminder that the fundamental principles of refugee protectionstill need to be respected," said Bill Frelick, refugees director at theHRW, on Wednesday.
Frelick said the government ofBangladesh should stop forcibly returning ethnic Rohingya fleeing sectarianviolence back to Myanmar. At least 18Rohingya asylum-seekers, including three young children, are in immediatedanger of being forcibly returned to Burma on World Refugee Day."Bangladesh is putting the lives of those fleeing violence, includingyoung children, at risk by sending them back to Burma," Frelick added.
On June 18, Human Rights Watchwitnessed the Bangladeshi coast guard pushing nine boats reportedly holdingmore than 140 Rohingyas back to Burmese waters from the jetty in the port townof Shah Porir Dweep.
Push-backs were postponed on June19 because of inclement weather. Bangladeshi border guards and police have also arrested and deported anunknown number of Rohingya who have recently entered Bangladesh.
"The Bangladesh governmentshouldn't be pushing boats back at all, but it's even more appalling that authoritiesare willing to send children back into territory where bloodshedcontinues," said Frelick. "The government should provide thosefleeing Burma temporary refuge and open its doors to humanitarian aid fromabroad."
The web post of the HRW saidarticle 3 of the Convention against Torture prohibits the return or expulsionof any persons to states where they would be in danger of being tortured.
The Committee on the Rights ofthe Child has stated that states must not return a child to a country where thereare substantial grounds for believing that there is real risk of irreparableharm to the child.
Human Rights Watch repeated itscall to the Bangladeshi government to allow independent humanitarian agenciesfree and unfettered access to the border areas.
Other governments should providehumanitarian assistance and other support for the refugees and press theBurmese government to find a durable solution by resolving Rohingyacitizenship.
The Rohingya are not recognisedas citizens of Burma, and have long been persecuted and discriminated againstby the Burmese government. Brutal violence in Arakan State between Buddhistsand Muslims erupted on June 3 and has intensified since then.
Security forces have shot andkilled an unknown number of Rohingya, and sectarian mobs from both groups haveburned down the homes and businesses of the other. On June 10, BurmesePresident Thein Sein issued a state of emergency in the area, ceding authorityfor law enforcement to the Burmese army.
For decades, the Rohingyas haveroutinely suffered abuses by Burmese security forces, including extrajudicialkillings, forced labor, land confiscation, and restricted freedom of movement.
"We're deeply concernedgiven past practices of the Burmese security forces that people in Arakan state,especially Rohingya, are at risk of serious rights abuses," Frelick said.