Dhaka, June 13 (bdnews24.com)—The Foreign Minister on Wednesday once again reaffirmed Bangladesh's stance of not allowing Rohingya refugees inside its territory.
"We are on alert," Dipu Moni told journalists in Dhaka, hours after New York-based Human Rights Watch urged Bangladesh to immediately open its border to people seeking refuge from sectarian violence in Myanmar.
Anticipating massive influx of refugees fleeing raging violence between Buddhists and Muslims in western Myanmar, Bangladesh has ordered its border guards, coast guards and local administration to heighten their vigilance along its border with Myanmar.
"We hope it (violence) will remain inside their country and there will be no trans-boundary spillover," the foreign minister said.
Earlier, on Tuesday at a press conference she ruled out any possibilities of allowing Rohingyas in Bangladesh where according to official estimates, 28,000 of them are already staying. The unofficial estimates put the figure between 300,000 and 500,000.
The United Nation's High Commission for Refugees had earlier called upon the government to provide Rohingyas shelter.
But Dipu Moni on Tuesday had said it was "not in our best interest that new refugees come from Myanmar".
As guards reportedly blocked hundreds of Rohingyas who attempted to enter Bangladesh over last three days, Human Rights Watch urged Bangladesh to change its position on humanitarian ground.
As many as 114 Rohingyas fleeing ethnic violence were arrested until 7am on Wednesday as they tried to intrude into Bangladesh.
"By closing its border when violence in Arakan State is out of control, Bangladesh is putting lives at grave risk," said Bill Frelick, Refugee Program Director at Human Rights Watch.
"Bangladesh has an obligation under international law to keep its border open to people fleeing threats to their lives and provide them protection," Frelick said in the New York-datelined statement.
The group argued that although Bangladesh was not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, it is obligated by the customary international law not to reject asylum seekers at its border when they are fleeing threats to their lives or freedom.
It also called on Bangladesh to allow independent humanitarian agencies free and unfettered access to the border areas.
Brutal violence in Arakan State between Buddhists and Muslims erupted last Friday and has intensified since then.
Security forces have shot and killed an unknown number of Rohingyas and sectarian mobs from both groups have burned down the homes and businesses of the other.
On Jun 10, Myanmar's President Thein Sein issued a state of emergency in the area, ceding authority for law enforcement to the army.