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Day 3: Rohingya and Population Census in Arakan

1st April 2014


1- Maungdaw Township, Arakan State

Around 7:30AM today (on 1st April 2014), a group of 100 Security Force (Hlun Hteins) and Police, 50 Rakhine (Magh) Census Enumertors and 20 Rohingya interpreters entered the village of Baggona in southern Maungdaw to survey census. They visited some households at the western Baggona and had conversations with the heads of the households.

The heads of the households asked “why are you here?”

The census group replied “we are here to survey census.”

Then, the heads said “we would take part in the census only when you are doing it according to the law and standard set by the government and give us the right to identify our own ethnic identity ‘Rohingya.”

To which the census group replied “we don’t have permission to do that yet. We will get the permission and come back.”

The heads of the households politely responded “we will warmly be welcoming you then. Thank you.”

The group left the village for the village of Nurullah at 8:30AM. But the villgers are highly suspicious of the census groups because they secretly capture photographs and shoot videos of the households and heads of the households during the conversations.

Maungdaw administration has categorized villages in Maungdaw in clusters. Of them, two are Pantaw Pyin (Lal Boinna), Baggona, Padin (Kunkara Fara, Faatonza, Boddil) and Du Nyaung Pin Gyi (Shaira Fara) in one group and Gawdu Thara (Gawdu Sara), Tharay Kunbaung (Sair Kunbaw), Kunnya Fara (Zawmadat), Pa Nyaung Pin Gyi (Daang Khali) in another group respectively. Hence, another census group made to the village of Gawdusara at the time when the other group attempted to carry out their plans in Baggona. (Tun Win Report)


– Around 4:00PM 31st March 2014, U Sein Mra Aung (a Rakhine), the village administrator of Nwa Roon Taung, summoned its villagers and asked “will you participate in the population census? If you want to participate under the ethnic category ‘Bengali,’ the census group will come tomorrow.” He also threatened “the list of the people who claim ‘Rohingya’ will be sent to the township administration so as to get the people punished.”

Besides, the village administrator ordered “from today, no one can be on sentry duty and give security to the village at night but only one person, the head of the 100-households. He, too, has to do it without even a stick. If there is any problem with anyone at night time, I will not be responsible for it.”

The villagers view that this is trick by the administrator to pressurize and force the villagers to accept the term “Bengali.”

– A team of census enumerators arrived at the Quarter 4, Maungdaw this morning (i.e. 1st April 2014 morning). They asked Rohingyas about their ethnic identity. They said “Rohingya.” Hence, the team left without surveying census. (Sindhi Khan Report)


2- Sittwe (Akyab) Township, Arakan State

A group of 200 Military, 300 Police Force, 100 immigration officers and 150 Census Enumerators arrived at the village of Thay Chaung Lat Thama, Sittwe (Akyab) township at 7:00AM today. They inquired Rohingya villagers of their ethnic name like they did in other villages earlier days. Rohingyas are firm on claiming their legitimate right ‘Rohingya.’ Hence, the team left the village without surveying census for the village of (main) Thay Chaung.

Before they left, one of the two reporters observing the situation asked Rohingyas why they were not participating. A Rohingya youth replied “we would like to participate. But they are not writing down our ethnic name ‘Rohingya.’ We are asking them to write it down. But they are simply neglecting it.” So, the reporter said “it’s your right. They must write it down.”

And in the village of Thay Chaung as well, the same situation took place.

Simultaneously, another group was attempting to make Rohingya accept the term ‘Bengali’ at the village of Thay Chaung Samanna. But Rohingya seniors from the village told the census group right before their entry to the village that their villagers would take part only when the group used their ethnic identity Rohingya. Thus, the group left the place without entering the village for the Rakhine (Magh) villages in Thay Chaung at 10:00AM. (Saed Arkani Report)


At 12:30PM today, a group of census enumerators visited the village of Da-Paing in Sittwe (Akyab) township. Since Rohingyas refused to be registered under ‘Bengali’ ethnic category, the team left the village (without carrying out survey) for the downtown of Sittwe at 2:15PM of th day. (Saed Arkani Report)


3- Mye Bun Township, Arakan State

On 31st March 2014 morning, A team census of 500 including Security Force and Census Enumerators arrived at the IDP camps of Rohingyas in the township. Since they said their ethicity was ‘Rohingya,’ the team left. In the afternoon, the township administrator threatened (the displaced Rohingyas) “if you don’t accept the term ‘Bengali,’ then, we will cut off your water supply and food channels and burn down your homes and shelters. You must accept it by any means.” So, they are surveying the census keeping the ethnic category blank. Thus, due to the rude behaviour and threats by the administrators, now, Rohingyas fear of being forcibly termed as Bengali. (Sallam Oic Group Report)


4- Mrauk-U (Mro-Haung, Phatthar Killa) Township, Arakan State

– Paung Touk (Fundu Kul) in Mrauk-U (Phatthar Killa) township is a Rohingya village with more than 800 households and a population of 8250. A census numeration team visited the village and told the villagers that they would survey the census only when they could write ‘Bengali’ under the ethnic category. It means that they were not ready to give Rohingyas’ freedom to choose their ethnic identity.

As the team started behaving rude saying “Rakhine State Government Spokeperson, U Win Myaing, has ordered us not survey census at all if you people claim to be Rohingyas,” Rohingya seniors replied “according to the law and standard set by the government of Myanmar for 2014 population census, everyone has the right to claim his/her ethnic dentity freely. We have been living in this country for centuries and are citizens of this country. If there are two communities in a state, one can’t be totally favored and another can’t be totally oppressed. We have strong historical evidences that we are citizens of this country. Therefore, if you don’t allow us to register as Rohingya, we won’t not be participating in it either. If you give us the right to claim our ethnic identity, we are going to take part in the census right now.”

Afterwards, with the census enumeration team, there were 50 Police officers from the Mrauk-U Police Station, one military battalion unit and immigration. (Ko Moe Thu report)


– This morning, a team of military, police and immigration officials and census enumerators visited the village of Yaing-Thay in Mrauk-U (Phatthar Killa) township. [Yaing-Thay is the village where 46 innocent Rohingyas (children, adults, olds alike) were brutally killed in October 2012 as they were hiding in a grave yard.] They summoned a member from each household to the premise of Basic Primary School at the village. The team tried to force Rohingyas to provide their datae and write them down on blank A4 papers. But Rohingyas refused to provide their datae arguing that they (datae) can’t be written on blank papers and must be written on the census forms. “If you write down on the census forms and use ‘Rohingya’ ethnicity, we are providing our datae now” said Rohingya villagers. The authority tried to threaten Rohingyas by different means but Rohingyas stood firm.

Eventually, the team left the village as their plot proved abortive. (Ro Myochit Report)

*More to be updated soon. Stay with us!

Please read earlier reports here: