The Rohingya Unrest Continues
The injustices against the Rohingya show no signs of stopping. In the last two weeks, Burma has had restrained and limited pressure from the international community. With the Burmese economic opportunities being highlighted even more so and America in decisions of lifting the sanctions on Burma, 40 days and counting, the cry of the Rohingyas is still yet to be heard worldwide.
In the last week, though the arson attacks have stopped, the communal and state sponsored violence very much continues; our sources tell us how thousands of Rohingyas are being arrested in the Maungdaw township and being taken to the Buthidaung Jail where they suffer continuous tortures - 40 prisoners were taken out from the cells to be beaten severly morning and evening time. It was also learnt that in this over populated jail the Rohingya receive one meal a day in comparison to their Rakhine ‘jailmates’ who receive 2 meals a day. The Rohingya have little or no clothing, they are having to rip up Longhi’s (male south asian skirt) to share amongst each other, in order to cover themselves. The Rakhine officials keep displaced Muslims in jail, not allowing them to return home. As the death toll is continually on the rise, the bodies are dumped without handing over them to relatives, which means that the number of those dead are uncertain, speculative estimations are having to be made based on those missing.
In the villages, houses continue to be ransacked by the Rakhine officials, who follow a pattern of targeting the wealthiest, most educated amongst the Rohingya to torture. During the house raids the officials extort wedding gold of belonging to the wife and mother of the family, which holds much cultural and sentimental values and also security. In addition to this, On 16th July, 70 Rohingya, were arrested and severely tortured in the village and along the road to Maungdaw town.
Our sources also tell us how Rakhine nationals have access to aid particularly in the Rathedaung township and at least two relief stations for Rakhine people of Ponnagyun township; the Rakhines take refuge in monasteries to escape from the violence. In the case of the Rohingyas, the navy forces fired launchers on those that have attempted to escape by boat .
The lack of food and shelter alone has been an indicator to the number of deaths; those in the most isolated areas of Rambre, Kyauktaw, Rathedaung township are more prone to torture the Rohingya are the minority in those areas. The government and Rakaine state minster who is also Rakhine people party-RNDP's president has been openly stopping any kind of food supply and stopping the finding foods by Rohingya themselves. There has been an incident whereby U Myo Win, the Commander of the District Police Force of Maungdaw had ordered the food supply worth around 30 million kyat belonging to a Rohingyan shopkeeper be taken away in a truck.
For the thousands of Rohingya living in the refugee camps along Darbaine village, Gwaladil village, Shisha Fara and Thakkaybyin village, they face flooding caused by the monsoon, which lead to the spread of diseases. The uneven distribution of aid from the officials and the blockade of international aid means that the Rohingya are helpless and are almost in a state of simply waiting for their death.
This week Dipu Moni, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh expressed her concerns and urged President Thein Sein (who is scheduled to visit Moni in Bangladesh later this month) to take back the Rohingyas; she recognised that the Rohingyas “Prefer to be known as Burmese Nationals”. However, this is more than just preference. The Rohingya have a heritage in the land as far as the 8th Century and before General Ne Win’s military coup in 1962, they were recognised citizens with equal rights, and had voted in the in 1960 elections. The 1982 Citizenship Law must change to reflect what is right and just with the Rohingya being given full Burmese citizenship.
This Month the Rohingyas are to observe the holy month of Ramadan, however while morale is low and the fear of death is bound and near, it seems as though it will take a lot more than prayers for help to reach the Rohingyas or even to help themselves.