Desk report, Jan 07: Saudi Arabia is continuing to deport scores of stateless Rohingya – held indefinitely by the kingdom – to Bangladesh, where they will become refugees, according to video footage sent to Middle East Eye.The videos show Rohingya, some having spent nearly five to six years in Saudi detention, being prepared on Sunday for deportation at the Shumaisi detention centre in Jeddah.
One of the videos sent to MEE shows a Rohingya detainee sitting down, filming secretly, as dozens of Rohingya are lined up to be processed for removal in Shumaisi.
Some Rohingya were also put in handcuffs after they attempted to resist their deportation to Bangladesh, according to voice notes sent to MEE.
The man in the video, who is speaking Rohingya, said: “I’ve been here for the last five to six years, now they are sending me to Bangladesh. Please pray for me.”
Another recording sent to MEE recounted the events that led up to Sunday’s forcible removal of the Rohingya.
“They came to our cells in the middle of the night at 12pm, telling us to pack our bags and get ready for Bangladesh,” a Rohingya detainee, who wished to remain anonymous, told MEE.
“Now I am in handcuffs and being taken to a country I’m not from – I am Rohingya, not Bangladeshi.”
Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist, condemned the Saudi deportations.
“If these Rohingya detainees are released in Saudi Arabia, they can support their families held in refugee camps in Bangladesh, instead of accepting their deportation to Bangladesh,” Lwin told MEE.
“They are not criminals to be held in handcuffs, and I am very sad to see them being treated like criminals by the Saudi authorities.
“I appeal to the Saudi government, as a Rohingya, not to deport anyone and release them as soon as possible.”
Commenting on what will happen to the deported Rohingya, Lwin said: “Now they will be sent to refugee camps and will increase the number of refugees in Bangladesh.”
Rohingya in Saudi
Last year, Middle East Eye reported that Rohingya detainees were being prepared for deportation just days after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Saudi Arabia.
Documents leaked to MEE confirmed testimony from detainees that forms from the Saudi Interior Ministry demanded a confirmation on the refugees’ “full mental health” before their deportation to Bangladesh.
Detainees said Rohingya were “punched” in the chest by Saudi immigration police and forced to sign the documents.
Many Rohingya locked up in the Shumaisi detention centre came to Saudi Arabia on Bangladeshi passports, obtained via fake documents.
Some Rohingya had also come on passports from other South Asian countries, including Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Nepal.
But after landing in Saudi Arabia, customs officials take the Bangladeshi passports as a precaution to stop them from running away.
However, some detainees locked up in Shumaisi told MEE they had lived in Saudi Arabia their whole life and had been sent to the detention centre after Saudi police found them with no papers.