Rohingya Update: A new apartheid and fears of a wipeout
The fate of many in Arakan takes another turn for the worst. Our sources have told of the fear of continued death after news of orchestrated killings.
We have learnt that the authorities in Arakan have trained Rakhine locals and other Buddhist settlers to kill the Rohingya at first sight, branded under an operation of ‘security’ and ‘self defense’. The Rakhine locals scour the river and mountain areas and spare no life. This week (26th February) the report of two Rohingya men killed in Maungdaw South by local Rakhine from the Natala Village being rapidly circulated online. The Rohingya men were killed whilst fishing in the mountains and collecting firewood in the forest.
Today, other groups of sources from Arakan had told us, that on February 28th at 9:30pm, the NaSaKa had arrested a man named Abdul hafiz (aged 52). Abdul Hafiz was first tortured in the village and then taken to the ‘Alel Than Kyaw Nasals Camp’ were the NaSaKa had extorted 3 million Kyats from him – after which he was still arrested for reasons that remain unknown.
One source had emotionally displayed the horror the Rohingya endure every day: “We Rohingya are in very big trouble for safety and food. All of our national movements have been closed. In Maungdaw south, the authorities are very cruel to us. They go to Rohingya villages every night and loot our belongings. They say, “This is not your land, run away or die”. If they see anybody (Rohingya), at first they arrest and then torture in order for all the villagers to run away (from Arakan)”.
More Rohingya flee to Sri Lanka
Beyond the Arakan border, On Friday (1st March) a second group of Rohingya refugees had been found near the coastal town of Idi Rayeuk, western Sri Lanka, marooned on wooden boat; a total of 63 Rohingya were found adding to the 32 who washed up on to the Sri Lanka shores a couple of weeks prior. The 63 were sent to the immigration office and then transferred to the detention centre. It has been reported that the Thai authorities had taken the refugees’ food, water and petrol supplies as they passed through Thailand. The Sri Lankan authorities are expecting more Rohingya refugees to arrive in the coming weeks and are said to feel burdened by this responsibility to clothe and feed the refugees demanding for Burma to take ownership of this problem.
Tutu fears new apartheid
Back in Burma, earlier this week, Desmond Tutu had met Aung Saan Suu Kyi in her home in Yangon during his visit to Burma. Contrary to previous statements, Tutu now defends Suu Kyi’s decision of not speaking out on the Rohingya issue because of her delicate position as a politician in Burma and a global icon; however it is hoped that she herself will explain her decision in the future. Tutu, however, did not hold back on expressing his own views about the Rohingya. During his speech in Baldwin Library in Yangon on Wednesday (27th February) he called upon on all Burmese leaders to end the ethnic strife in Arakan, and especially highlighted the need to stop the ongoing racially motivated attacks on the Rohingya, labeling it ‘a new apartheid’.
Thein Sein in Europe
Coinciding with Tutu’s trip to Burma, Thein Sein had commenced his European tour. After deciding not to include the UK and France in his official tour, he is now visiting Norway, Finland, Belgium, Italy and Austria, where he had agreed to meet with Burmese community leaders, including two Rohingyas. In an interview with DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma) Sein spoke of the sectarian violence in Arakan (and the Kachin crisis); he explained that government are in talks of a peace process and have already signed ceasefires which have ‘temporarily’ ensured some peace in those areas. Sein explained how he hopes to engage in political dialogue with the ethnic groups for ‘sustainable’ peace. However, when asked about amending the 1982 citizenship Law, Sein replied: “For now, the government has no plan to revise the law”.
Despite this, on Friday, the Finnish Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisaari had expressed his view that Burma is a serious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize this year because of its efforts in the democratisation of the Burmese government.
Rumours of a complete wipeout of the Rohingya are also becoming a feared reality. Thousands of Rohingya ‘temporarily’ living in the IDP camps already living in the worst conditions imaginable, now face the threat of life threatening floods during the upcoming rainy season. With camps intentionally situated on the low lying land, a wipeout of the Rohingya masked under a consequence of a natural disaster is imminent. It has been said that even Rohingya who do not live in Arakan are also sent to the IDP camps, which eludes further to this orchestrated removal. Resettlement and improved living conditions are, now more than ever, desperately required.