Violence Looms Large Over Arakan
Reports of camps being destroyed across Pauk Taw, Sittwe have brought fears that an upturn in violence against the Rohingya of Burma has begun. In a day of violent outbursts across the Arakan region, there were also wide scale arrests in Maungdaw. This comes amid a spate of anger thought to originate following the death of a Rakhine man. The body of the man was found in forests near Sittwe and it is believed that police authorities are tracking down a Rohingya man who is purportedly responsible for his death. No evidence has been found of any misdemeanour.
Almost 100 women and children were arrested in Killa Dong village in Maungdaw district. At 12.30pm nearly 100 army personnel and 150 riot police cordoned off the village following unrest in the early hours of the morning. Eyewitnesses told Restless Beings today Hlun Tein (security forces) had arrived at Killa Dong at 10pm alongside a number of Rakhine mobsters belonging to the radical 969 movement. Around 3am raids by a joint force of military, security forces and police took place at the southern Maungdaw village. They had opened fire on individuals resisting the raids and a mass arrest of over 100 took place regardless of gender and age. Many Rohingya were injured during the operation which saw localised disputes between the Rakhine mobsters and Rohingya families whilst the looting and raids took place. Upon the discovery that the security forces were in cooperation with the mobsters, Rohingya village elders urged the villagers not to resist the raids. Police and other forces arrived in Killa Dong once again in the morning and by 12.30pm arrests were made against all those who had resisted in the raids overnight. As night drew, the situation in Killa Dong village remains tense as villagers fear repeat raids overnight.
Earlier last week, following skirmishes which broke out between locals in Manzi, Sittwe two Rohingya boys were arrested by authorities in late December. Muhammed Karim and Amir Hushon both aged 12 years old and both residents of the Thay Chung district of Sittwe were arrested by police and blamed for causing the tussle. Since their arrest their whereabouts are unknown and their parents have not been informed of any charges.
In Bayda Kyay, Sittwe, the police (Battalion no. 34) continue to extort from the Rohingya. On the 6th of January Mahmud Rofique, son of Abdul Hakim, was arrested and tortured by the police, leaving him in a critical state.
This week the international spotlight was placed on Thailand following a Human Rights Watch report which told of the harsh treatment faced by the Rohingya boat people at the hands of Thai authorities when they reach the shores. The report states that Rohingya children are often exposed to trafficking and detaining those who reach Thai lands. From this, the UN has started an investigation on the treatment of Rohingya boat people in the detention centres – it's said that 139 Rohingya arrived at Phuket on the 25th of December 2013.
Another wave of violence seems to have begun in Arakan state despite international calls for a permanent solution to the issue being ignored at large by the State and Burmese authorities. Having already witnessed countless numbers of deaths and thousands of Rohingya homes already destroyed in fires and looting since June 2012, the Rohingya of Arakan wait with baited breath as more violence threatens to dismantle their community once again.