Rohingya Diaspora and Current Situation

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The need to heed the Rohingya diaspora communities

The second round of relocation of the Rohingyas to Bhashanchar took place on November 29, 2021. Abul Kalam, a Rohingya photographer, was jailed for shooting photos of the Bhashanchar-bound Rohingya caravan. Human rights activists inside and outside Bangladesh lamented that ‘unprecedented’ action. They also condemned the violation of the law for not producing Kalam before the court within 24-hours of his apprehension.

As usual, the narrative of the law enforcement agency differed. According to the law enforcers’ account, Kalam was arrested as an unnamed accused against an earlier charge. However, most national-international observers cast doubt on that narrative. Thirty-three representatives from different walks of international human rights organisations, journalism, academia, and film, photography, and creative arts field issued a statement demanding Kalam’s immediate release. The Rohingya diaspora communities also globally expressed deepest concerns and resentment against that action, which eventually made a discernible international buzz. Upon their calls, human rights activists instantly created the ‘Free Kalam’ Twitter hashtag. The online cause did receive thousands of shares online.

It is indeed a piece of good news that Kalam received bail within a short period. However, the incident may serve as food for thought for Bangladesh authority about setting a clear path to handle sensitive actions. The incident can also serve as a starting point for effective communication between the Rohingya diaspora communities and diplomatic missions of Bangladesh abroad.

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