Suspicious Disappearance of 26 Bangladeshi Fishermen

Munshiganj BangladeshRestless Beings is a grassroots humanitarian organisation which endeavours to help marginalised communities who are subject to human rights abuses. Much of Restless Beings' activism focuses on human rights violations in Bangladesh, this includes the plight of the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic group originating from Western Myanmar’s Arakan state. The Myanmarese refugee population in Bangladesh is estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000.

Restless Beings has been informed of the suspicious disappearance of twenty six Bangladeshi fishermen. The men have not been seen since 2nd November 2010, when they embarked on a night fishing expedition in the Naf River, at the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Mabrur Ahmed, Restless Beings Director, who is currently in Bangladesh, has recently been made aware of the situation by a local reporter who cannot be named for security reasons.

The twenty six fishermen, aged between sixteen and thirty two, are all native residents of Kutugdia, Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. None of the men have been seen since they disembarked for their expedition at 10.30pm local time on 2nd November 2010. Mohammed Korim Ali, father to one of the missing persons, Mohammed Romij Ali, has described the events surrounding the disappearance. At approximately 2.30am Korim Ali received a phone call from his son, aged sixteen, who told him that the boat’s engine had cut out and that his father should meet him at Nayapara Port in the morning after sunlight.

The fishermen were not in danger, this being an ordinary occurrence. The weather on the night in question was very calm so it is unlikely that the boat would have lost control. However, at 6am the next morning Korim Ali went to Nayapara Port to meet his son who did not arrive. He then tried to call his son numerous times but found that his phone was switched off. Korim Ali informed other parents and families of the missing fishermen who also tried to telephone them but received the same response.

The local police were informed that the fishermen were missing. After receiving no information from the police station, the concerned families took the matter to the district officer in charge. Again, they received no help.

Korim Ali and other local residents think that the boat was taken by Myanmarese border police in the mistaken belief that the boat contained Rohingya people trying to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh. The Rohingya people are a Muslim ethnic group originating from Western Myanmar’s Arakan state. They are one of the world’s most persecuted and forgotten marginalised communities suffering from gross human rights violations at the hands of the Myanmar military junta and the authorities of the neighbouring states they have fled to. The Myanmarese refugee population in Bangladesh is estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000. The human traffic in the region all flows from Burma to Bangladesh, it is virtually unheard of in the other direction.

Rohingyas in the Leda Bazaar and Kutupalong camps in southeastern Bangladesh said that they had received news from family members in Myanmar that the boat had been taken in by the border police, and the fishermen on board imprisoned.

A search committee was formed with Korim Ali as the elected president. Korim Ali applied for a visa to visit Myanmar from the Bangladesh central government to find his son and the other missing persons. The visa was granted and Korim Ali travelled to Myanmar on the 29th December and stayed until the 3rd January. When he requested permission to find out if the missing fishermen had been imprisoned he was violently threatened by junta military men and fled in fear for his life. He is now staying near Ukhaya Thana in Bangladesh for a further ten days in the hope of hearing news of his son and the others. He has requested that the international community help in trying to find the missing persons.

Some of the names of the missing fishermen are:

  • Mohammed Romij Ali, son of Mohammed Korim Ali
  • Mohammed Jahanhir Miah (captain of the boat), son of Bodi Alam
  • Mohammed Shuhel and Mohammed Afsar, sons of Mohammed Shamsul
  • Gora Goon, son of Mohammed Azala

If you require any further information please get in contact.

Fisherman on Kaptai Lake

Images from flickr by Jankie and Catch the dream.

Comments

Nadia Hussain

This might not be fashionable news that hits the headlines, but their voices need to be heard. International pressure must be applied in order to enact change in corrupt authorities.

Please spread this article via facebook, twitter, amongst colleagues and friends.

15 January 2011 delete
Mabrur Ahmed

we are covering the Rohingya, for exactly that reason - its not seen as fashionable news, major news networks do not feel the need to highlight the problem. Some of the world's most severe human rights infringement, some of the world's most obvious and blatant racism, yet, because there is no interest for the west (i.e, religiously, financially, materially), we do not regard their plight as something that we can affect directly.

If you believe that you as an individual can affect your family and friends with your opinion, then you are a changemaker. Go ahead and share news like this with your loved ones, and lets show the world, that we dont care for human rights because we are after a pot of gold or oil, but that we care for human rights because we are human.

21 January 2011 delete
Syeda Salmah

This might not be fashionable news that hits the headlines, but their voices need to be heard. International pressure must be applied in order to enact change in corrupt authorities.

Please spread this article via facebook, twitter, amongst colleagues and friends.

22 January 2011 delete