Bangladeshi army accused of gang-raping 12-year-old Rohingya girl

PETALING JAYA: The Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia (MERHROM) has accused the Bangladeshi army of gang-raping a 12-year-old Rohingya girl in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh.

Its president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani said the rape incident proved that protection for women and children in the refugee camp was very weak.

He also questioned the standard operating procedure (SOP) of dealing with refugees in the camp, and whether there was adequate protection and counseling rendered to the victim.

Zafar called on, among others, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Bangladeshi government to immediately conduct a transparent and thorough investigation into the incident.

He added that security measures and the SOP in the refugee camps must be reviewed, and urged the UN to deploy a peacekeeping force to ensure security in the refugee camp.

"UNHCR must consider her (the victim's) resettlement as her safety, as well as her family's, is at risk," he said in a statement on Friday (Oct 4).

Zafar alleged that the Bangladeshi army had threatened the victim's family.

According to AFP, the Bangladeshi military has ordered an investigation into the incident.

It also said that Mohammad Osman, the elder brother of the alleged victim, claimed that three soldiers entered their shanty and proceeded to sexually assault the victim at the Nayapara Rohingya camp last Sunday (Sept 29).

The report said the victim was currently being treated at Cox’s Bazar central hospital.

"We understand that the Bangladesh government is facing difficulties in dealing with the world's largest refugee camp, but the security and the safety of refugees, especially women and children, cannot be sacrificed.

"We are concerned over the increase (presence) of the Bangladesh army in the refugee camps. The refugees are not a threat to national security," he said.

Zafar said they were grateful to the Bangladeshi government for sheltering the Rohingyas, but hoped that more could be done to ease their vulnerability.

"We are worried over the cutting of Internet connection in Cox’s Bazaar, as it only exposes the refugees to more abuses and exploitations, as well as disrupting humanitarian aid," he said.

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