Rohingyas in KSA 'a major irritant' for Dhaka, Riyadh | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 08, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 08, 2008

Rohingyas in KSA 'a major irritant' for Dhaka, Riyadh

The activities of Rohingyas and a few Bangladeshis, posing as Rohingyas to get special favour from the Saudi authorities, have become a major irritant for Dhaka and Riyadh, officials said.
As Rohingyas have been subject to state persecution in their native Myanmar, Saudi Arabia handed out work permits or Iqama to them even though they did not have necessary documents to get such permits, they said.
Coming to know about such advantages, many Rohingyas went to the Gulf country on Bangladeshi passports, an official at Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh said, adding that Rohingya population in Saudi Arabia now stands at about 2.5 lakh.
He said they managed to get Bangladeshi passports in the name of performing Hajj or Umrah, but destroyed the documents once in the kingdom in a bid to land jobs.
"The Rohingyas' getting work permits and jobs has never been a issue for Bangladesh. But problems arise when they pass for Bangladeshis and want to be sent back to Bangladesh after Saudi police arrest them on criminal charges," the official told The Daily Star.
An official in Dhaka said Saudi police arrested 267 Rohingyas on criminal charges in Jeddah last year. Saudi authorities then asked the Bangladesh mission there to make necessary arrangement so they could be sent back here.
The request threw the Bangladesh officials into confusion as Saudi authorities could not show any documents that could prove that the arrestees were Bangladeshis. The mission then informed the foreign ministry and the home ministry about the matter after which the government held an inter-ministerial meeting in August last year.
The meeting concluded that Bangladesh could not accept any migrants from a third country unless they could produce documents proving them to be Bangladesh nationals. "There have been no new development about the matter," said an official in Dhaka on March 5.
"Saudi authorities were seriously annoyed at the issue," said a foreign ministry official.
Meantime, the Bangladesh embassy official in Riyadh said a few Bangladeshi nationals flew to the kingdom to perform Hajj or Umrah but stayed in there for a long time, violating the law.
"Knowing that Saudi authorities give Rohingyas special favour, they also destroyed their passports. They later claimed that they were tortured in Myanmar and were forced to migrate to the kingdom," he told The Daily Star over the telephone on Tuesday.
He said those Bangladeshis also managed to get work permits, adding that they identify themselves as Bangladeshis and want to be sent back to the country only when Saudi law enforcers arrest them on criminal charges.
"Such cases are very irritating for us. The Saudi authorities are also seriously annoyed about it," the official said, adding: "Surely if someone is from Bangladesh, we shall ask the Saudi authorities to deport them to Bangladesh. But, we cannot allow the Rohingyas to be deported to Bangladesh."
"Bangladesh mission and Saudi authorities may jointly investigate the matter and take decision about them who claim they are Bangladeshis but fail to prove it", the official said.
An immigration expert said, "We must be careful that Rohingyas don't get Bangladesh passports in any way. Otherwise the image of Bangladeshi workers will be tarnished.”

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