Rohingya refugees are playing “a key role” in smuggling yaba into Bangladesh, Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu claimed on Tuesday.
The minister further alleged that influential locals in Chittagong are turning the port city into an “economic zone of drugs” with the help of Rohingyas.
“The Rohingyas are engaging in illegal activities such as smuggling arms and drugs into Bangladesh,” Hasanul Haq Inu said in a speech to a roundtable on Tuesday titled “Rohingya Crisis and Drug Addiction: Current Context”.
“We can feed them but no illegal activity will be tolerated. Our police has already arrested some of them.”
The minister said the Myanmar army has violated the Rohingyas’ human rights with ethnic cleansing, and is also involved in the yaba smuggling business over the Bangladesh border.
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Inu urged Myanmar to give the Rohingyas citizenship and to start implementing the recommendations made by the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State in order to resolve the crisis.
“Our government is working with the UN regarding their return to Myanmar,” Inu said.
Tuesday’s program was organized by the Association For the Prevention of Drug Abuse (Manas) in Dhaka.
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Presenting the keynote paper, Manas founding chairman Professor Arup Ratan Choudhury said Bangladesh needs to constantly monitor the Rohingyas to prevent drug smuggling.
“A few days ago a Rohingya women was caught with 9,800 pieces of yaba that were to be sold in Bangladesh,” he said.
“There are a reported 700,000 addicts in Bangladesh, most of whom are college and university students.”
Arup said 84% of the addicts were male, and that the drug addiction rate rose by 77% in the eight years from 2005 to 2013. “It has now has peaked at a level that the government should declare it a national crisis,” he said.