By Sindhi Khan & HN
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Maungdaw, Arakan: Maungdaw Authority has started to threaten Rohingyas to accept “Illegal Bengali Immigrants” classification. On the other hand, the authority has started to severe restrictions on Rohingya travels across the township as many Rohingyas have denied the ethnic classification against their wish.
Around 10AM on June 25, 2014, a joint of group of Immigration (Lawaka), Border Guard Police (BGP) and Makapha (Squad for Protection of National Races and Religion) summoned Rohingya community elders in Quarter 4 for a meeting at the Quarter Administration Office. Around 38 Rohingya Men and 12 Rohingya Women attended the meeting.
In the meeting, head of the Makapha, U Soe Min Tun, said “this operation doesn’t have anything to do with either your race or your religion. We just want to survey population. For examples, how many members there are in a family, how many members have left the country, how many have been newly born, how many have passed away, how females and how males and so on. Just that!”
To which Master Fayas replied “People have lost their trust in government due to its continuous abuses and atrocities against them. They no longer believe in government’s sincerity. In the last census, people were ready. But the authority didn’t include them in the census just as they tried to self-identify their ethnicity according to the census law. Therefore, we can’t ask our people to be ready for the operation. They will do only when they come to believe the government. Besides, who will be ready to classify oneself as ‘Illegal Bengali Immigrant’ when he/she is not?”
Then, U Soe Min Tun threatened “I have a message to deliver to you on behalf of BGP Chief Commander Tin Ko Ko. That is we will ask you to take part in the operation. If you refuse, we will forgive you once. We will ask you for the second time. If you don’t accept yet, we will forgive you again. But in the third time we will not pardon. If you don’t accept, we will declare you all to be Illegal Immigrants. As simple as that. We will start our process from this quarter starting on 28th June 2014.”
First round of meeting with local Rohingyas of Quarter 4 was held on June 21, 2014. Hence, yesterday’s meeting was for the second time.
On the other hand, Authority in Maungdaw is using various threats to force Rohingyas to classify themselves as “Illegal Bengali Immigrants.”
On June 23, 2014, BGP and Immigration held another meeting in Quarter 2. Local Rohingyas were summoned to the meeting.
“You must participate in the operation. You must classify yourselves as illegal Bengalis. Else, we will imprison you for 8 years. We will torture you until you leave this country. We will confiscate your properties. We will extort money from you” BGP threated to Rohingyas in the meeting.
In Q&A Session, a Rohingya named Shawbaw @U Abu Taher said “how can we identify ourselves as illegal Bengalis. Our forefathers were born here. We were born here. This is our country. We are sorry. We won’t be able to do so.”
Then, BGP replied “you discuss with your people. We will come back soon.”
Consequently, Maungdaw Authority has severed travel restrictions for Rohingyas. Rohingyas are not allowed to cross the check-posts, located at every four-mile-distance, without a travel document from village/quarter administration. On the other hand, village administrators are pressured not to issue any travel permit to Rohingyas.