Dozens of Rohingya flee India for Bangladesh: officials

Members of a Muslim Rohingya family sit as they pose for a photograph with Indian and Myanmar security officials before their deportation on India-Myanmar border at Moreh in the northeastern state of Manipur, India, January 3, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 January 2019
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Dozens of Rohingya flee India for Bangladesh: officials

  • Bangladesh border officials and police said dozens of Rohingya had been detained crossing from India in the past week

DHAKA: Dozens of Rohingya Muslims have crossed the border into Bangladesh from India in recent days, officials said Tuesday, as New Delhi faces censure for deporting the persecuted minority to Myanmar.
Last week India handed a Rohingya family of five to Myanmar authorities, despite the army there being accused of genocide against the stateless group.
The forced return — the second in recent months — was criticized by the United Nations and rights groups who accused India of disregarding international law and sending the Rohingya to danger.
India, which is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, arrested 230 Rohingya in 2018 — the most in years as Hindu hard-liners called for the displaced Muslims to be deported en masse.
Bangladesh border officials and police said dozens of Rohingya had been detained crossing from India in the past week. They were sent to refugee camps in the country’s south, where a million of the displaced Muslims live in hardship.
The round-ups in India, and fear of deportation to Myanmar, had fueled the recent exodus, Bangladesh officials said.
“They told us they panicked after India started detaining Rohingya refugees and deporting them to Myanmar,” said Shahjahan Kabir, a police chief in the eastern Bangladeshi border town of Brahmanpara.
He told AFP that 17 Rohingya were detained last Thursday after crossing into Bangladesh, followed by 31 at a different border point. Most had been living in India for up to six years, Kabir added.
In Cox’s Bazar, a border district where some 720,000 Rohingya have sought refuge from a Myanmar army crackdown in August 2017, local officials said at least 57 had arrived in recent days.
“They have come from places like Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir,” said Rezaul Karim, government administrator of the giant Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Hyderabad is a major city in southern India and Jammu and Kashmir the only Muslim-majority territory under Indian control.
For decades the Rohingya have faced persecution and pogroms in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which refuses to recognize them as citizens and falsely labels them “Bengali” illegal immigrants.
They were concentrated in Rakhine state, the epicenter of a brutal Myanmar army offensive in August 2017 that UN investigators described as genocidal in intent.
Amnesty International, among other rights groups, has blasted India for forcibly repatriating the Rohingya to Myanmar when persecution in Rakhine is ongoing.
Dozens of Rohingya were also deported from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh at the weekend, reported the London-based Middle East Eye website.
Indian officials say around 40,000 Rohingya are living in India. The United Nations refugee agency says around 18,000 Rohingya are registered with the UNHCR.


Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

Updated 16 January 2019
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Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

  • Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO
  • Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete”

WASHINGTON: Fresh doubts surfaced Tuesday over President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO, after he was reported to have discussed a desire to pull out of the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO — the historic alliance that forms the backbone of the West’s post-World War II security order — and that he wanted to withdraw, The New York Times reported.
He has often blasted members of the 29-nation partnership for not paying more into their national defense budgets.
Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and soon after a tumultuous summit in July, he questioned whether the US would honor the alliance’s founding principle of mutual defense for newest member Montenegro.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US remains “100 percent” committed to NATO.
At the summit the president said the US “commitment to NATO is very strong” and “tremendous progress has been made” by allies and partners.
“That has not changed,” Pahon said in a statement.
“NATO remains the cornerstone of transatlantic security.”
In Brussels, a NATO official also highlighted Trump’s comments from the July summit.
“The United States is strongly committed to NATO and to transatlantic security,” the official told AFP.
“The US has significantly boosted its commitment to the defense of Europe, including with increased troop commitments.”
Turning 70 this year, NATO has underpinned Western security in Europe for decades, first countering the Soviet Union and then Russian expansionism.
A US withdrawal from NATO would be a strategic gift of epic proportions to Russia, which is accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections to help Trump win.
Former defense secretary Jim Mattis was a staunch proponent of NATO and repeatedly visited its Brussels headquarters, where he sought to reassure allies about America’s commitment to the alliance.
But Mattis quit last month, and observers see a shrinking coterie of advisers around Trump willing to push back against him.
The US Congress, including Trump’s own Republican Party, would likely push back against any effort to withdraw from NATO.
The only country to have ever invoke Article 5, NATO’s collective defense principle, was America following the September 11, 2001 attacks.