Families distraught as Myanmar detains 18 Bangladeshi fishermen during Eid

The joy of Eid is in the air and markets are bustling with business. But there is little happiness at the homes of 18 fishermen who made their living in the Bay of Bengal.

On Mar 15, the group and their boats were detained by the Myanmar Border Guard Police from the Naikhangdia area on the Teknaf-St Martin route. Instead of engaging in Eid festivities, their families are now struggling to get two square meals a day. The detainees have been identified as Nur Kalam, 26. Mohammad Jashim, 25, Saiful Islam, 23, Md Faisal, 23, Abu Taher, 22, Md Ismail, 20, Md Ishaq, 24, Abdur Rahman, 24, Md Hossain, 22, Mohammad Hasmat, 25, Mohammad Akbar, 23, Nazim Ullah, 19, Mohammad Rafiq, 20, Mohammad Sabbir, 25, Mohammad Helal, 25, Md Jamal, 21, Rezaul Karim, 18, and Mohammad Ramzan, 16. There was no Eid cheer on the faces of the people in the Jaliapara area of Shah Parir Dip near the Naf Rriver’s Beribandh. They were waiting – waiting for the return of their sons, their husbands and their fathers. In some cases, the detainees were the sole earning members of their families. “What does Eid matter if my husband isn’t back?” said Aysha Khatun, the wife of Mohammad Jashim. “We don’t know where he is or how he’s doing. The kids are crying, asking for new clothes. We have no money, how can I buy anything for them? My three children and I are living in an inhuman situation.” “There is no Eid joy here,” said Salema Khatun, the mother of Mohammad Rafiq. “There’s only despair on the faces of my family. Nobody can eat. When we get him back, then we will truly celebrate Eid.” “The families have no idea where the 18 fishermen are,” said Abdus Salam, a ward representative of Sabrang Union. “They are terrified and confused. Their earnings provided for their families, but now they are on the brink of starvation.” Abdul Gani, president of the Jaliapara Small Fishermen’s Cooperative Association, called on the government to take action. “We are requesting the government do all it can to bring the fishermen back to us,” he said. Border Guard Bangladesh have contacted their Myanmar counterparts regarding the fishermen, said BGB Captain Lieutenant Colonel Sheikh Khaled Mohammad Iftekhar. But they have yet to return.