Five days after this agreement, on the night of Saturday, July 19, armed riot police entered Nayapara refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar district intending to arrest refugees cleared by Burma for repatriation. The refugees resisted, with some throwing stones, and tear gas was used to quell the protests. One hundred eleven refugees, mainly women and children, were held in the camp office overnight. The next morning, these people along with seventy-six other refugees were driven in buses to a repatriation point and forced onto boats to be taken back to Burma. A partly paralyzed man and a heavily pregnant woman were among those taken. The refugees were frightened and women threw themselves on the ground in the hope that they would not be taken. At least one woman was beaten with a cane. Back in the camp, refugees protested the forced repatriation, and there were violent clashes. Some fifteen people, including three Bangladesh policemen, were reported to have been injured, although the true figure may have been higher as it was reported that refugees were too afraid to report to the clinics for medical help.

On Tuesday, July 22, a similar event took place in the only other remaining refugee camp, Kutu Palong, with 212 refugees rounded up overnight and deported by boat and overland the next day. A total of sixty-seven children were separated from their mothers in the repatriations. Again there were protests in the camp, though in this case thesecurity forces remained outside the camp, and some 300 demonstrators were allowed to sit in the middle of the road without interference. On Thursday, July 24, following protest letters from the UNHCR assistant high commissioner,9 the Bangladesh government denied that there had been any use of force in the repatriations, but also said that there would be no further repatriations without the UNHCR's presence. In the days following, Bangladesh issued several statements reiterating their determination to repatriate all refugees, with Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad saying, "It is not possible for us to allow them a permanent settlement on our land. This problem has to be addressed by the international community."10 Nevertheless, by August 6, the 13,000 refugees in Nayapara camp were on a hunger strike, refusing to collect their daily rations and refusing to access the available services, including medical clinics, in the camps.

A Bangladesh foreign ministry statement released on July 25 denied that any forced repatriations had taken place, saying, "The refugees are predominantly economic migrants and any generous subsidies and campaigns about local settlement will work as a disincentive for the refugees to return."11 UNHCR was blamed for encouraging the refugees to refuse to go back to Burma by promising that they would be resettled.

9 "UNHCR Protests Expulsions in Bangladesh," UNHCR press release, July 23, 1997. In a letter to the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Assistant High Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello appealed to the Bangladesh authorities to refrain from further forced repatriations and allow UNHCR to carry out interviews to ensure refugees were returning voluntarily. "In the absence of such arrangements," the letter said, "UNHCR would no longer be in a position to associate itself with the repatriation operation." 10 "Bangladesh says some Burmese accept food," Reuters, July 31, 1997. 11 Statement by Bangladesh Foreign Ministry, Bangla News Agency (BSS), July 25, 1997.