Bangladesh security forces have detained a Rohingya leader during a sweep in a refugee camp, police said on Tuesday, as tension grows over plans to repatriate the displaced Muslims to Myanmar.
The Rohingya representative, Mohibullah, was held in Cox’s Bazar district as local authorities broke up a protest on Monday against the controversial repatriation deal signed by Bangladesh and Myanmar.
He was handed over to Bangladesh’s elite security force and then local police who are still holding him for questioning, Cox’s Bazar police chief Abul Khair told AFP on Tuesday.
Two other Rohingya men were also detained for their role in the protests, another officer added.
Mohibullah, who goes by one name, has mobilised Rohingya in recent weeks to protest against returning the persecuted Muslims to Myanmar.
Bangladesh had been due to start the huge process of repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Tuesday, after agreeing a two-year timescale with Myanmar.
But the process was delayed when Bangladesh said neither side was ready for the huge undertaking.
Myanmar later blamed its neighbour for its lack of preparation.
Nearly 690,000 Rohingya have fled a campaign of violence in Myanmar since August, and many of the displaced Muslims living in Bangladesh fear returning to their conflict-scarred homeland in Rakhine state.
Bangladesh insists the repatriation process will be voluntary but Rohingya have erected banners, chanted slogans and staged angry rallies in crowded camps near the border in Cox’s Bazar.
Police are also investigating the murder of two Rohingya representatives in the past week. Local media suggested one man was targeted for his support for the repatriation process.
“We are conducting raids in the camps every day,” Cox’s Bazar deputy police chief Afrujul Haq Tutul told AFP.
Seven Rohingya men had been arrested in the police investigation into the murders, he added.
A Rohingya leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said those considered “pro-repatriation” were coming under suspicion as hostility to the plan snowballed in the refugee camps.