Rohingya Christians have been moved to safety following an attack in a Bangladesh refugee camp, Mission Network News reports.
Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) explains: “Recently there was an attack and a pastor and his daughter were kidnapped, they were abducted. And then we had received word from kidnappers to our partners, that there is a plan now to forcibly take the pastor’s daughter and marry her to a Muslim man. . . This was going to happen soon.”
The attack, which occurred in the Kutapalong, the world’s largest refugee camp, left 12 Christians wounded.
The Christians were refugees from Myanmar who came to Bangladesh in 2007. They claim they were also attacked in May of last year by the same group: Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). According to its Twitter account, ARSA is, “Fighting for the liberation of persecuted Rohingya.”
Local police acknowledge the violence, but maintain that Christians in the camp initiated it by beating and dragging out a man, and that Muslims retaliated. They also deny that ARSA was involved and claim only four Christians were injured.
The attack reportedly left many Christians without homes, as the attackers went into houses and used machetes to destroy them. Police confirmed damage to homes. Following the attack, the Christian families, along with many Hindu families, were isolated from the Muslims by the United Nations.
The attacks also connect to a recent statement by UN Special Rapperteur Yanghee Lee, who voiced concern over the state of religious minorities in the camp.
This is not the first time ARSA has been connected to kidnapping, as rights activists have accused the group of terrorizing other Rohingya, killing over 100 Hindus in 2017, and intimidating Hindu Rohingya refugees.
ARSA fighters were also involved in the violence that brought a wave of refugees to Kutapalong from Myanmar in 2017. The Rohingya are one of the most discriminated ethnic groups in the world, and Myanmar has carried out ethnic cleansing against them for years.
Musselman says the attacks spring from an already very difficult situation.
“The Rohingya situation is horrible . . . These people are one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world. And it is a very destructive situation, very sad. These are people that just struggle for their own homeland and [to carry] out their culture.”
At present, more than 740,000 refugees are living in tents in various camps in Cox’s Bazar, in particular that of Kutupalong, on the border with Myanmar. They fled Myanmar after violence broke out pinning the Myanmar military and ARSA fighters in August 2017.
In addition to the 25 Christian families in Kutupalong, 444 Hindu families have also relocated to the Ukhia camp.
According to some sources, Christians and Hindus are said to be the victims of persecution by majority Muslim Rohingya. Caritas Bangladesh is present in the camps, working for everyone, whether they are Christian, Hindu or Muslim, a Caritas official said.
The Catholic charity doesn’t consider the religion of the people they serve. Each camp has a person in charge of conflict resolution who, with the police, tries to settle issues.