Thursday, 23 March 2017

Maungdaw,Arakan State: The census processing groups - Enumerators , Supervisor, Immigration officers, village admin officers and security personnel- are not allowing the term Rohingya in the column of race, then  all the Rohingya community in Maungdaw  Township and Buthidaung township stop to join the census process today morning, said Halim, a Human Rights Watchdog from Maungdaw.

Young Rohingya children hold placard of welcome to census group

The villagers welcome the census processing group when the census processing groups arrived in the villages where they will collect the data of all the villagers. Before processing the data collecting, the villagers first asked to the group, to use the term Rohingya in the column race – code number 914(Other) - where the processing groups denied to fill the term Rohingya. So, the villagers denied to join the census processing, Halim said.

The census processing group with some Rohingya community leaders and politicians – Dr. Bashir, Mohamed Rafique, Mohamed Nur and etc – went to SeinNyin Pya (Saindeepran) village today morning and discussed about census data collecting with village elder where the group denied to use the term Rohingya. So, all the villagers refused to join the census collecting program, said Hamid, a school teacher from Buthidaung.

Similarly, Rakhine community from Maungdaw are also boycott the census, demanding the government, not to use the term Rohingya in the race column, said Aung Pyu from Maungdaw.

The Vice-President Dr Sai Mauk Kham had arrived in Maungdaw today and discussing with government officials about how to process the census in Maungdaw. All the Maungdaw residents are waiting the speech and decision of the Vice-President Dr Sai Mauk Kham after noon, said an officers who declaim his name for security.

Some Rohingya - working for authority – are trying to organize the Rohingya to follow as per census processing group’s direction, to process the data entering in the census forms and similarly, some Rakhine also trying to join the census, the officer said.

Maung Maung Sein- a school teacher- organized his village track –Ngan Chaung- yesterday evening to join the census with keeping the column 7 and 8 in blank. But, most of the villagers refused his proposal to do it, said Ahmed from village.

Similarly, the security forces with census processing groups forced the village admin officers of Pa Din (Fatanzar), Pandawpin (Nolbanna), Bagonena to sign in the forms that there were no Rohingya in their areas. But, the village admin officers denied to sign on the forms as they will not able to take the responsible of all villagers, said Hasu, from the village.

Burmese government is supporting all criminal activities behind the scene as a tactic; and in response to the demand of the Buddhist Rakhine and their accomplices, it has announced yesterday that Muslims would not be allowed to register as “Rohingya" in its first census in three decades despite UN assurances. This will put the entire Rohingya population and those trying to help them at great risk, according to Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) press release date March 29.

“The census is a technical project that has taken on major political overtones and risks inflaming an already tense environment, with particular potential to spark violence against Rohingya Muslims and the foreign aid workers trying to help people in desperate need,” Brad Adams said in the HUnman Rights Watch press release. “The government and the UN should listen to the concerns of ethnic minorities and go back to the drawing board to make sure they get this process right.”

In Sittwe in Arakan State, demonstrations against the census and the government’s agreement to permit the classification “Rohingya” to be put in the ethnic classification box on the census form have been ongoing for several weeks. Community leaders have called on ethnic Arakanese Buddhists to boycott the census, and this call has been spread further by a tour of anti-Muslim extremist Buddhist monks led by U Wirathu, the Mandalay-based leader of the nationalist 969 movement. Demonstrations against Rohingya Muslims being counted in the census have also been held in the commercial capital Rangoon, stated in Human Rights Watch press release, dated March 29.