Dhaka – Bangladesh has asked operators to stop mobile phone services to Rohingya Muslims living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, officials said.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Sunday issued an order asking the four mobile phone operators to stop selling SIM cards to the Rohingya as the commission observed the refugees obtained cell phone connections flouting the existing law.
An official at the BTRC said that the decision was taken for reasons of state security, law and order and public safety.
More than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims entered Bangladesh after the army in Buddhist-majority Myanmar launched a crackdown in northern Rakhine state in August 2017. Since then the refugees have been living in squalid camps in south-eastern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar.
The United Nations termed the crackdown a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” while rights groups and the United States have accused Myanmar of attempted genocide.
“You are requested to ensure that the Rohingya community is not provided with mobile phone services,” the official quoted the government directive as saying.
The operators were asked to report back in seven days about the measures they had taken.
Existing law requires a subscriber to submit a copy of his or her national identity card or passport before getting a SIM card in Bangladesh. The government says the rate of crime has increased in the refugee camps in the past months.