Headcount of Muslim quarter in Sittwe ordered
A government official in Akyab (Sittwe) reached by telephone confirmed to The Myanmar Times that the immigration department would check the identities of residents in Aung Mingalar on May 21.
The residents of Aung Mingalar, said to number 4530 according to a 2012 count, have lived in what amounts to a ghetto, guarded by police and severely limited in their movements, since 2012 when state sponsored violence by the Buddhist on Muslim communities across the state.
Most Muslim residents of Akyab (Sittwe) were forced into rural camps in 2012 but a number were allowed to remain in their homes in Aung Mingalar, which is now the only predominantly Muslim area of the city.
Residents reached in Aung Mingalar by telephone said the enclave had been under total lockdown since May 14 when a small group of protesters gathered in front of police barricades. The residents said medical transfers and deliveries of medical supplies had stopped. A twice-weekly run to a market in an IDP camp outside Akyab (Sittwe) had also been halted, they said.
Communal stockpiles of rice were sufficient for just two weeks and were being distributed, the residents said.
One man, who asked not to be named, said those requiring medication were considering a move to the camps dotted around the city’s outskirts. If the food blockade continued then more would be forced to consider leaving, he said.
International aid workers in the city said they were closely monitoring the situation. One worker, who asked not to be named, dismissed rumours that the population of Aung Mingalar would be moved to IDP camps.
A letter of complaint lodged with state authorities reportedly alleged that the population of the ghetto had ballooned since the previous count.
Radio Free Asia yesterday quoted U Than Tun, a Akyab (Sittwe) resident, as saying that about 700 residents had sent a signed letter to state Chief Minister U Nyi Pu on May 13, demanding that he expel all Muslims from Aung Mingalar.
U Than Tun was quoted as saying that government officials, representatives from the Muslim community and youth groups would conduct checks in Aung Mingalar on May 21. Residents said they expected the results to be released the next day.
The United Nations has repeatedly called on Myanmar to lift the restrictions imposed on hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in Arakan(Rakhine) State. The new government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is yet to disclose its policies for the state.
Additional reporting by Nyan Lynn Aung
Note: Changes have been made, Myanmar Times is not responsible for these.
Source: Myanmar Times
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