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Why Are There Arsons and Shootings Again and Again in Maungdaw Township?

Ro Mayyu Ali
RB Article
October 21, 2016

Maungdaw is a border trading town in Rakhine State, situated in south-west of Myanmar. It is home to more than 500,000 inhabitants from varying backgrounds such as Rohingya, Rakhine, Hindu, Thet, Dai-net Mro, Kamee and Marmagyi.

Among the people, Rohingya are historically the most indigenous and documented as the richest people in the township. In population, approximately 80 percent are Rohingya, 15 percent Buddhists and five percent are Hindus. Most of the land, forests and lakes are owned by native Rohingya. Religiously, Rohingya are the only group who believes in Islam and all the rest except Hindus are Buddhists who enjoy full freedom of all legal rights. The fate of most Rohingya is so perilous and their ethnic identities in Myanmar have been denied as well as they have been suffering Civil and Human Rights violation and even genocide today.

In other townships in Rakhine State, Buddhist nationalists and anti-Muslim chauvinists who play a role in the Union and State governments have been bringing their attention on the population and influence to the wealth of Rohingya in three townships: Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathidaung in Northern Rakhine State. They have been focusing their racial and religious concerns in those townships.

Firstly, they chose to filter the township of Maungdaw where there is the most Rohingya population in. Because they foresee that other two townships would be easier if they could damage the livelhoods of Rohingya intiailly in Maungdaw by implementing several kinds of profound schemes and deep-running strategies.

In these regards, over the last two decades, they have been installing two new risky groups like an anti virus to monitor bona fide Rohingya in the township. One are the Natala (local term) who are taken from Upper Myanmar and provided with facilities of a bungalow, some acres of paddy land which was taken from native Rohingya, a couple of cows and some other religious accesses per a family. Strategically, the village tracts of Natala people are set up in the middle of Rohingya villages and where there are easy accesses of transportation, education, medical assistance and marketing services.

The second risky group are Bangali Rakhines whom are taken from the border of Bangladesh. They fit better than Natala people because they are from the same feather. Usually, they receive Myanmar National Scrutiny Card like other Rakhines whose births are in the township. Their children can enjoy education initially in monasteries and Buddhists orphan houses. Moreover, after 2012 communal violence, hundreds of Bangali Rakhines including Thet and Myo have been taken significantly three times to Maungdaw Township.

But today, both groups enjoy in the luxuries of wealth, education, transportation, medical assistance and other facilities much more than native Rohingya and even the roads to their model villages are specially made of cement which will last a long time, as is found in southern Maungdaw Township.

Now, they take pride in themselves that they are Thaiyinthar (local term for indigenous people). To use a common phrase, they come to exile native Rohingya whose rice and water they survived on, using the offending terms (Kalas and Bangalis) that other Rakhines in the township use for Rohingya people.

Nevertheless, the local authorities have been setting up several kinds of snares for Rohingya in the township such as, trading hindrance from one township to another, extortion large sums of money, arbitrary arrests, long time incarceration , accusations of illegal activity, etc.

Incidentally, the fire of 2012-June communal violence began in Maungdaw Township and spread to other townships in Rakhine State. In 2013, the fire was resumed again in Du Cheer Tan Village, in southern Maungdaw. During that violence, Maungdaw is, in fact the most hidden of the affected townships in Rakhine State, where the result of losing more than 50 Rohingya innocent souls, a loss of 100 Rohingya houses, looting millions from properties of Rohingya, incarceration of more than (100) young Rohingya men and the fleeing thousands of vulnerable Rohingya to their neighbor countries such as, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Thailand and Bangladesh. The worst is many Rohingya lives have been lost drowing in the sea while trying to reach, on rickety boats, a safe shore for a refuge. These reported tolls are only for Maungdaw Township. At the time, they have targeted and cleared whatever they could particularly in downtown and south of Maungdaw Township.

Now, northern Maungdaw is still fresh and green, but their hunger sees no bounds., and the appetite of their greed and lust are keener. They gear up to a higher level with their many ill-talents what they can be as the followers of Gautama.

It is very tense as their racial divisions and prejudice become stronger and more aggregated. After the 2012-June precarious violence, their movement is much more operative than before. In the township, along the border are iron-fences. Hundreds of Border Guard Police check points are installed. A leader of 969 anti-Muslim movements from each Rakhine Village tract is locally organized. The supply of INGOs and Agencies humanitarian aids are remarkably limited and the approval of their activities are delayed for a long time and often denied, as well. The services of medical assistance of the Township Medical Department is limited and the immunization process is limited and this has led to suffering of polio by a couple of Rohingya children during the last year in township. The techniques and methods of Schools for Rohingya students are unbelievably separated and discriminated. And the twists and propaganda of Myanmar Social Medias are in the headlines against Rohingya. For sure, it is then in dangerous with their racially multi-sectarian currents to attack the dwellings and lives of those native Rahingyas who have a long existence in the township. Would the Buddhist chauvinists take full aim in northern of Maungdaw at this time? 

Unfortunately, at the predawn of 9 of October, 2016, Border Guard Police Head Quarter No.1 in Kyi Kan Pyin Village and a check outpost in Nga Khu Ya Village in Maungdaw Township as well as another check outpost in Ko Tan Kauk Village in Rathidaung Township were attacked by some militants. According to local authorities, 9 BGP Forces were killed and some weapons were taken away by the attackers who were holding rods, swords and pistols. As two of three attacks were in northern Maungdaw Township the township became again like a well-blocked dam to catch fish and they may whatever eat whatever they like. What a moment comes for them!

On 10 of October, 2016 in the early morning, 7 innocent Rohingyas including Mohammed Ayas son of Kamaal, 13 year old, a grade-8 student in Myo Thu Gyi Village track (located in 6-miles away to BGP HQ where there was attack that of the previous night) were shot to death in cold blood by military personals. At noon on the same day, a mass grave of three Rohingya men, shot by military forces, was discovered in Kyauk Pyin Saik Village, northern Maungdaw and the hamlet of Wapaik in Kyi Kan Pyin was set on fire by the military. Before the statement of the Myanmar President‘s Office, consecutively the village tracks of northern Maungdaw such as, Kyet Yoe Pyin, Nga Sar Kyu, Oo Shan Kyar, Phur Wet Chaung, Ngan Chaung, Kyauk Pyin Saik were already cleansed by Myanmar army.

On 14 of October, 2016, Myanmar President Office released a statement regarding the terror attack in Maungdaw. It stated that the name of the attacking group is Aquamul Mujahidin, the leaders of the group are outsiders who entered through Bangladesh and the leaders convinced around (400) young Rohingyas, particularly in the villages of Oo Shan Kyar, Ngar Khu Ya, Kyauk Pyin Saik and other neighbor where military forces have already burned down, shot dozens of Rohingya to death and looted the properties. In facts, what I mention about the statement in there is just brief. However, the statement intentionally described events beyond the abilities of the attackers. But also, it has a purpose pointing out a location and a type and amount of Rohingya in the township. It is a statement that can worsen the lives of Rohingya much more than previous schemes on them. But still the questions remain to ask: Why did Bangladeshi government let the attackers to jump to Myanmar through their country when they could hand over catching up the attackers during coming back? What did thousands of Myanmar Border Guard Police forces stand for in West Gate? 

However, the process of Myanmar military’s clearance operation for those sectors is officially launched. And the forces have started to play with fire. Under the process, military personals have killed more than (100) Rohingyas including children and old women, set fire to more than (1000) Rohingya homes, looted billions Kyat of Rohingya’s properties, raped some Rohingya girls and women and displaced internally more than (30000) Rohingya people.

Is it enough for those hungry schemes? Not at all, still tthose mentioned by the President’s office’s statement are wanted. Are they only seeking the men who are wanted for these crimes? No, they have to practice how to kill the birds while targeting the eggs in the nest of Rohingya. It is the target to the nest, not only to the eggs.

Though there was no more shooting nor setting fire in Maungdaw for the past couple of days, some strange actions are taking place against Rohingya in northern Maungdaw. On the 18th of October, 2016, Karim Ullah, 58 years old, a senior humanitarian Rohingya, was tortured to death while in Maungdaw Police Custody. On the 19th of October, 2016, two prominent Rohingya men, Jenna Khan and Ludeya were killed in Maungdaw Police Custody while they were being interrogated. Dozens of Rohingya are detained and still in custody. Moreover, in some hamlets, many men and young boys pass their nights in nearby the fields, toddy gardens and embankments of the lakes and lagoons. Just the women and young girls are staying at home. It is because of this that the Myanmar military forces who have a reputation for using rape as a weapon in war are raping young Rohinya girls and some have been taken away as sex-slaves. This is the update as of the 20th of October, 2016.

Indeed, today the township becomes the third Ghetto. However the brutality is, no Rohingya can move and flee to other neighboring countries like before. Bangladeshi government has choosen to hand over any Rohingya who flee to their country while most of Rakhine people have been taken to Sittwe city for safety. Would they also move them to safety at the first sign of a soft rain as well? Aung San Suu Kyi shows no interest in finding a good resolution of its Rohingya issue. The international community remains unmoved to act in the face of human rights violations continuing against the Rohingya, but have spoken up periodically. This has moved for hidden movements against the Rohingya where crimes can be hidden or ignored. 

The worst possible outcome is that the supremacists will get what they want, and Rohingya will be wiped away from the land. The Lady of Myanmar herself bears responsibility as well for the killing of old Rohingya ladies, gang rape of young Rohingya girls, displacement of Rohingya pregnant women and heart-break of long-suffering Rohingya mothers. Does her heart have any sympathy for the persecuted Rohingya people in her country? What is most painful is that under the first democratic Government of Myanmar Rohingya suffer more than ever before.

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