Mon 13 Sep 2004
Filed under: News,On The Border
July 12: Dhaka: About 70 Burmese prisoners in the Bandaban District jail, a border town near Kyauk Taw Township in Western Burma, have been on a hunger
strike since September 4, as they do not want to return to Burma under aBangladeshi repatriation program.
The hunger strike broke out when the Bangladesh authority collected a list of prisoners who will be sent back to Burma under a repatriation agreement between Burma and Bangladesh.
“Now that the hunger strike has reached the 7th day, we are very weak and the health of strikers has deteriorated, but we will continue and carry on the strike until we get our demands,” one of the striking prisoners said.
According to sources, many Burmese prisoners in Bangladesh jails are worried for their security if they are sent back to Burma, due to a spreading rumor in the jails that the Burma military government detains and tortures repatriation prisoners returned to Burma from Bangladesh.
Some Burmese citizens were arrested in Bangladesh upon entering the country, fleeing forced labor and other human rights violations by the Burmese authorities.
One of the prisoners said the jail authority in Bangladesh is requesting that local UNHCR officials recognize, as refugees, some of the Burmese prisoners who refuse to return to Burma.
In February and August of this year, over 200 Burmese prisoners were sent back to Burma from Bangladesh and many have since faced multiple problems from the Burmese authorities. Many were forced to pay bribes to the SPDC
authorities, while others who were unable to pay the bribes were detained by the Burmese authority.
Presently, over 600 Burmese prisoners remain in Bangladesh, and a number of them are unwilling to return to their homeland due to the fears of further detention and torture by SPDC.