Protests on August 25, on the second anniversary of what many Rohingya are calling ‘Genocide Day’the day thousands of Rohingya take flight from Myanmar to Bangladesh following a brutalclampdownby Myanmar’s armed forces in 2017—the Bangladeshi government hasordered telecommunications companies to block cell phone access at Rohingya camps on the pretext of protecting ‘national security.’
The government cited a series of violent crimes in the camps in recent weeks
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has been ordered to confirm the mobile users in the camps within the next seven days, where reportedly 9,000 mobile connections are regularly used, by verifying names and addresses used to register each SIM card. Telecommunications operators have also been requested to strangle, or weaken their networks in the border areas with Myanmar, as well as to cut off service completely in the Rohingya camps, and diminish the sale of mobile phone products and services to Rohingya refugees.
The consequences of the ban have serious negative impacts for the Rohingya. A Rohingya leader quoted in the Asian Correspondent said the ban would “would hugely affect Rohingya life, destort communications between different camps dispersed across the border district of Cox’s Bazar.” The leader also mentioned the ban’s negative impact on the financial wellbeing of the many Rohingyas who depend upon remittances sent by family members in other parts of the world.
According to reports the August 25 protests were organised via cellphones, so the decision to cut off cell phone service is being discern as an attempt at crushing future protests.
The decision also takes place in the context of a second failed attempt to repatriate the Rohingya back to Myanmar, for whichh nobody in the Rohyingya refugee community signed up.
Reports of violence within the camps have also increased in recent weeks, with police reporting that a fourth refugee was shot on Sunday.