In Bangladesh, yaba – which is a low grade methamphetamine or meth sold in pill form – is the popular illicit drug.
“Rakhine state has become a kind of drug highway towards South Asia, especially Bangladesh,” the International Crisis Group’s expert on Myanmar, Richard Horsey was quoted by DW as saying.
DW is German media outfit Deutsche Welle. A little over a week ago (May 19), DW carried a report titled ‘Is Southeast Asia’s drug trade too big to control?’
The meth is thought to be manufactured in Myanmar’s mountainous Shan state where its inaccessible regions make an ideal location for the drug labs.
Rohingya refugees fleeing Rakhine are exploited to smuggle yaba into Bangladesh, said the Wilson Center today — see its tweet below. The centre is a policy think tank based in Washington DC.
The Arakan Army are Rakhine insurgents who are also in the drug trade. They use proceeds from the meth sale to buy arms for fighting their separatist war against Myanmar.
Rohingya are recruited as drug mules to smuggle yaba through refugee migration routes into neighboring Bangladesh, said Wilson Center in its report ‘Rohingya refugees smuggle drugs for insurgents in Myanmar’.
“Between 2017 and 2018, authorities arrested more than 100 Rohingya crossing the border into Bangladesh on drug trafficking charges,” said the report.
“The location of drug seizures suggests the group transport the drugs primarily by boat and road through the northern Rakhine state town of Maungdaw before either crossing the Mayu mountain range or the Naf River into Bangladesh. The drugs also reach the shores of Teknaf in the southernmost end of Bangladesh by boat before being transported inland,” the Wilson security report added.
Bangladesh enacted its Narcotics Control Act 2018 to stiffen penalties for drug trafficking. This updated law covered “all sorts of narcotic substances” and also included yaba which was not in the country’s existing Narcotics Control Act 1990.
“The stern punishments were proposed in the new  law as yaba has spread across Bangladesh in a massive scale in recent times,” Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam was quoted by the Dhaka Tribune as saying. Aug-Sept 2017 was the height of the Rohingya mass exodus to Cox’s Bazar.
Recently on Saturday (May 23), it was reported that more than 100,000 yaba pills were seized in Cox’s Bazar by Bangladeshi authorities — see Prothom Alo report below. Prothom Alo is a Bangladesh bilingual digital media.
108,000 yaba pills seized in Cox’sBazar, 10 held Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in a drive detained 10 pe… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
News from Bangladesh (@banglanews_eng) May 23, 2018
The Rohingya drug peddlers are armed and dangerous. One suspected dealer was shot dead in a gunfight with police just the previous Sunday (May 17) in the Teknaf sub-district, Cox’s Bazar.
“The dead, M Saker, 22, used to live in Ukhia’s Balukhali Rohingya camp,” The Daily Star quoted Border Guard Bangladesh officials as saying.
The Daily Star is a leading Bangladesh English newspaper. It reported another incident a week earlier on May 9 where two suspected yaba dealers – Noor Mohammad, 35, and Mohammad Rafique, 25, of Kutupalang Rohingya Camp – were similarly shot dead in a gunfight with border police.
Meanwhile, in the same month (May 2020), Bangladesh papers reported other acts of violence involving Rohingya. One Dhaka Tribune headline read ‘Rohingya kidnappers kill hostage for ransom in Cox’s Bazar’.
Yaba daba doo !
The locals of Cox’s Bazar “knew not what troubles awaited them as the Rohingyas gained in years”, said a lengthy article in the Dhaka Tribune last month (Apr 25). And not to mention growing in numbers also. Golly, this Bangladesh daily – see below – kinda sounds like our Rais Yatim.
’3 years on, Cox’s Bazar people pay heavily for prolonged Rohingya stay’ is the Tribune’s headline. Actually Malaysia might experiment by placing Rohingya in the homes of their plentiful Malaysian sympathizers a mere three months, for starters.
“In the beginning every one of our locality welcomed the displaced Rohingyas on humanitarian ground. We worked for their food, clothes and shelter. But, the situation has changed now as they have already become a burden for us,” Fazlul Kader, president of Civil Societies Forum in Cox’s Bazar, was quoted by the paper as saying.
A few days ago (May 22), Bangladesh’s increasingly tetchy Foreign Minister Abdul Kalam Abdul Momen publicly snapped at European diplomats, “Why don’t you relocate these refugees to your countries?”
The EU ambassadors had been bullying Bangladesh to shelter more and more and more Rohingya.
We need to inform Foreign Minister Abdul Kalam that help is on the way. Many humanitarian Malaysian are most eager to welcome the Rohingya into their Subang Jaya houses.