Sunday, 27 May 2018

Fayas Ahmed

Introduction: Arakan is about 20,000 sq miles in area with 5 million populations including 1.5 million of Rohingyas who were expelled from their homeland. Arakan was an independent sovereign country where the two great religious of Buddhist and Islam flourished side by side throughout the history. The Rakhine and Rohingyas has peacefully coexisted and ruled Arakan in perfect amity and share alike as twin brothers.
The Burma’s who were in fact, a foreign power to occupy our homeland, started ruling Arakan with their “divide and rule” policy putting the two sister communities at loggerheads.

There are over 3 million Rohingya people, living both inside and outside Burma. Due to widespread persecution, prejudice and ethnic cleansing inside Burma, nearly a half of the population (over1.5 million) have been compelled to live in exile, particularly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Malaysia, and Thailand.

The Burmese military regime carries out systematic repression and human rights violations against the Rohingya ethnic minority living in Burma’s northern Arakan State.

Medicines san Frontiers (MSM) in a press release issued on 26 November 1992 said, “It listed Rohingyas as one of the ten world population in danger.

Post Independence Period (1948-1962):

NRC Cards: The most remarkable thing is the NRCs in Burma, under the Residence Registration Rule of 1951 were issued only to the citizens. Foreigner cannot be registered under Section 35 of the said Rule. Most noteworthy thing is that the first town in the Union to issue NRC was Maungdaw Township of Arakan State. Teams of immigration and manpower registration department got down to the grassroots villages to register the people and issued NRCs to Rohingyas. So, the accusation of today that Rohingyas got NRCs by fraud and bribe is an act of ulterior motive.

The Rohingyas were issued the National Registration Cards (NRC) during the Parliamentary government (before 1962) or before SLORC/ SPDC regime. The SLORC had been seized the NRC from the Rohingyas and such seizing is still continuing under the pretext of issuing new ones to them or making them document less. As a test case, the authorities issued Temporary Registration Cards (TRC) known as “White Cards” to some Rohingyas against their will. It is nothing but a design to degrade Rohingya from citizen to non-citizen or stateless.

BTF Atrocities: Burma Territorial Force (BTF) organized in 1949 to suppress the Rohingyas, most of them are extremists Rakhine community. The measures of BTF period and their brutality still shudders the conscience of every living Rohingya till today. The BTF unleashed  a reign of terror in North Arakan under the direction of UKyaw Oo, the firebrand Rakhine Deputy Commissioner of Akyab district, killing hundreds of people and burning several villages. Thousands of Rohingyas were made homeless and nearly 50,000 had fled to the then East Pakistan. Maung Gri was first commanding officer in 1950; Capt. Saw Hla Aung was replaced and then transferred them to UMP (Union Military Police).

There are many cases of rape on innocent ladies who were taken outside of their homes and taken away for some days and returned later. Even elderly women were not left untouched in the villages where the BTFs and UMPs were moving.

Facilities :( From 1948 to 1962): From the legal point of view, until the advent of “SLORC “, we, Rohingyas have enjoyed full fledge Burmese citizenship rights. There were Foreigners’ Acts and Foreigners Registration Rules. We are not required to register under those acts and rules.

Rohingyas were not required to apply for citizenship and were given identity cards. They voted as citizens of Burma in British rule, in 1936 Legislative Assembly Election, in 1947 Constituent Assembly Election, during the democratic period from 1948 to 1962, during BSPP U Ne Win’s reign (1962-1988) and also in the general multiparty election of 1990 given by the SLORC. Thus allowing Rohingyas to take part in the Election since British Rule to SLORC’s election must be upheld as a measure of recognition.

According to Burmese constitutions of 1947 and 1974 as well as according to 1948 Citizenship Acts, we are Burmese citizens. We enjoyed public job and obtained Burmease Passport. Our town and villages were provided with government schools and hospitals. We got the rights to elect and to be elected in all levels of administrative institutions including Parliament. We had parliamentarians, parliament secretary’s even ministerial posts.

Besides, Mr. Gani Marcan was the representative of Rohingyas during the British period. Mr. Sultan Ahamed and Mr. Abdul Gaffar were the Rohingya members of the Constituent Assembly. Mr. Sultan Ahmed was also a member in drafting constitution committee of 1947 and his wife Daw Aye Nyunt, and her father U Po Khine, Haji Abul Khair. Mr.Abul Bashar, Mr. Rashid Mr. Sultan Mahammod, Mr.Abdul Gaffar, Mr.Soban, Mr. Azhar Meah were all Rohingya members of Parliament during the (1948-1962) democratic period.

Mr. Sultan Mahammod of Akyab was Health Minister in Prime Minister U Nu’s cabinet in 1961. From 1947 to 1958, Mr. Sultan Ahmed of Maungdaw was Parliamentary secretary of the Burmese Parliament. Mr Abdul Gaffar and Mr.Abul Bashar also served as Parliamentary secretaries.

The Rohingya representatives of Hluttaw (Parliament) during the socialist period of U Ne Win are Mr. Abul Hussain (Buthidaung town), Dr. Abdul Rahim (Maungdaw Town)

Advocate Abdul Hai, Mr. Muzaffar Ahmed, Kyaw Thein Mustaque, Mustaque Ahmed, Saleh Ahmed, Elias, Aman Ullah, Boshir Ahmed and many others were Rohingya representatives to Arakan State Council during the BSPP periods. 

In 1990, SLORC sponsored multi-party general election, the Rohingyas were allowed to elect and to be elected, thus there were 4 Rohingya elected for the parliamentarian seats in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.

After independence (1948 to1962), Rohingyas were appointed in government services including immigration departments. During this period, 80% Rohingyas were appointed in government services in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships. But, after 1962, Rohingyas were reduced in government services. From 1972 to1988, Rohingyas were allowed to be elected from Village Peace and Development Council to Parliament. But, after 1988, Rhingyas were totally denied to accept in any government service.

However, Rohingyas have been allowing to be elected in Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) members.

In 1958 to 1960, during the Ne Win’s Care Taker Government, 27 villages of Maungdaw northern side of Arakan State were uprooted by army led by Bo Tin Kyaw and drove them into the then East Pakistan. Later, they were repatriated to Burma after meeting between two governments.

Prime Minister U Nu’s democratic government recognized Rohingyas as an indigenous race of Burma. Rohingya language was aired from the State run BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service) from 1961 to 1965.

U Soe Shwe Thaike, the first President of the Union of Burma also told, while he was in the highest office, that “Rohingya is and indigenous race as he himself (a Shan) and there is no different between Rohingya and Shan in the case of Nationality.”

Rohingyas enjoyed separate Mayu Frontier, including Maungdaw, Buthidaung and some parts of Rathedaung townships from 1961 to 1965. The Mayu Frontier was controlled by Central Government.

Rohingyas participated in official “Union Day” celebration of Burma’s racial groups in the Burmese capital (Rangoon) every year.

Prime Minister U Nu and U Ba Swe, announced, “The Rohingyas are equal in every way with other minority races like the Shan, Kachin, Karen, Kayah. Mon and Rakhine. They have lived in Burma for ages, according to historical facts. They are of Islamic faith. There is historical evidence that they have lived faithfully and harmoniously with other races of the Union.”

Yet the SLORC is making mockery, ignoring everything branding us to be recent entrants from Bangladesh.  This is unfair and illegal.

1962- Military Coup: General Ne Win overthrew the popular elected democratic government of U Nu on March 2, 1962. All he powers of the state legislative, executive and judiciary were under the control of “Revolutionary Council (RC).

The Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) started to drive out Rohingyas from the towns of Kyauktaw, Mrohaung, Pauktaw, Maybon, Minbya etc and they were forced to board on boats bound for Buthidaung Township. The authorities confiscated all their immovable properties. The internal refugees had passed their days under open sky in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Twonships.

The Muslim Rohingyas of Arakan are not allowed to travel to Rangoon. They are not allowed to get a government job.

Rohingyas in police department posted at Maungdaw and Buthidaung were either transferred to fur-flung corners of Burma or expelled. Other high-ranking officials were forced to retire or dismissed or suspended. Besides, appointment of those Rohingyas who were earlier selected for judicial services and civil services were with held without giving any reason. All other services excepting clerical post and lower grade schoolteachers in government were filled up by either Burmans or Rakhins.

Then Ne Win started taking action against the Rohingya Muslims of Arakan. The State controlled media began attacking Rohingya Muslims branding them as foreigners.

In 1964, the RC abolished the special Mayu frontier Administration and put the area again within the jurisdiction of Akyab District under the Home Ministry and the Rohingya Language Programme relayed from the Burma Broadcasting Service (BSS), Rangoon was cancelled in October 1965. All socio-cultural organizations have been banned since 1964.

In 1967, bulk of the rice produced in Arakan was carried away to Rangoon causing rice shortage in Arakan and many people had died of starvation. Continuous hunger provoked anger among the people of Arakan and a riot erupted which was crushed down by military that gunned down many on the spot.

After the military coup in 1962, it becomes difficult for Rihingya children of recognized citizens to have citizenship cards.

Refugees Exodus of 1978: In 1977-78, Burmese authorities launched a combined operation of army, police, Luntin and immigration personnel under the code name of “Naga Min Operation” (The King Dragon Operation) after alleging the Rohingyas as the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. This operation terrified the entire Rohingya population and within a few months, about 300,000 Rohingyas had to flee the homeland and took shelter in Bangladesh.

Of them, more than 200,000 were repatriated to Burma by the end of 1979 and the rest of the refugees went to KSA, Pakiatan, and some other countries. When nearly 300,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, in 1977-78, the dictator of Burma U Ne Win’s government branded that they all were illegal immigrants. Ironically, they were accepted back in 1979 as the citizens of Burma.

After 1988: the military junta beefed up their systematic persecution against the people across the country including Rohingya, so country men suffer more and more under the military rule.

In 1990, a free and fair election was held in the hope of military junta will be elected again by the people. But, it was quite difference what they thought. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won significantly in the election. Therefore, the military junta was upset and surprised by the result of the election. The Junta did not recognize the result of the election. Later, the NLD leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was kept under the house arrest

*1991-92 refugees exodus: In 1991-92 by March there were over 270,000 refugees scattered in camps along the Cox’s Bazar- Teknaf road in Bangladesh.

Besides, all those Rohingya Business men illegally arrested by the SLORC during the so- called “Phyi-Tha-Ya Operation” (Prosperous country) were sentenced to 3 to 4 year’s imprisonment with hard labor without proper trial. Under this operation, millions of dollars worth of currency and goods were confiscated illegally by the SLORC. This operation was one of the main causes of the 1991-92 exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh.

Uprooted Rohingya villages: On July 1994, the SLORC troops had uprooted the Rohingya village of Nalapara of in Minbya and Min Thara Pyin village of Mrauk-U townships. About 10,000 Rohingyas of the village were brought to Maungdaw Township. More Rohingya villagers from Kyauktaw Township had been ordered to quit their villages since then. Thousands of them were herded into boat and carried to Maungdaw north and south starting a fresh drive to Bangladesh.

On November 17, 1994, there was a communal violence in Akyab, in which at least 2 Rohingyas were killed, one of them was a pregnant woman and several others were wounded.

Besides, in 1994, about 4,000 young Rohingyas were taken away by military intelligence under the command of former Gen. Khin Nyunt the Secretary (1) and were killed in cool blood. No one has ever returned back to his families. There whereabouts is still unknown.

Home Minister’s verdict (1996): Lt. Gen Mya Thinn, Home Minister, recalled the Muslims population of Rakhine State was not recognized as citizen of Myanmar under the existing naturalization regulations and they were not even registered as so-called foreign residents.

Consequently, the Minister added, their status situation did not permit them to travel in the country---They are also not allowed to serve in the state positions and are barred from attending higher educational institution quoted by Special Rapporteur Professor Yozu Yokota.( Feb.1996).

1996-97 Refugees influx: In 1996, the UNHCR estimated that 5,500 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh while other relief agencies said there might be 10,000. They fled because of forced labor, lack of freedom of movement, and the forcible disappearance of family members were the main cause of leaving Burma.

In 1997, about 10,000 to 20,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh because of increased of forced labor, heavy taxation and some instances of rape. Both of the refugee influxes did not get refugee status from Bangladesh government. So, they have been living in rural area of Bangladesh, particularly in Cox’s Bazar District.

The Akyab Massacre in 2001: The genocidal rampage was started on February 4, 2001 in Akyab, the capital of Arakan State, at the very presence of military personnel and police.

In the riots, some Rohingyas were killed and wounded. And some houses, shops and hotels owned by Rohingya were burnt down into aches by the unruly Buddhist mob.

Police and soldiers reportedly stood by and did nothing to stop the violence initially. It was several hours before they intervened.

Rohingyas from Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships are totally barred to travel to Akyab since the riots. Later, Rohingya Muslims from other townships of Arakan State are not allowed to travel to Akyab.

The Burmese junta has been pursuing a policy of divide and rule in Arakan and is afraid of Rohingya and Rakhine unity. Creating such religious and ethnic riots help them to rule Arakan.

Rejection of Citizenship: The Burmese military regime has declared that the Rohingyas are non-citizens. The 1982 citizenship Act is even more objectionable in so far as it was propagated to deliberately denying citizenship to persons who had previously been recognized as citizens.

According to 1982 Citizenship Act., there are three types of citizens; they are Citizens, Associate Citizens and Naturalized Citizens.

Under the 1989 General Election law, allowing the Rohingyas to vote and stand for the national election must be upheld as a measure of recognition of Rohingyas as bonafide citizens of Burma.

According to the 1947 Constitution “a group of people who entered Burma before 1825 and settled in a defined territory are also indigenous race of Burma.” This clause was especially written for the Rohingya people said, Dr. Aye Maung one of the authors of the 1947 Constitution.

U Nu`s democratic government recognized Rohingya as an indigenous race of Burma. Their language was aired from the state run BBS (Burma Broadcasting Service) from 1961 to 1965.

In 1982 all Citizenship Law was promulgated which was deliberately targeted at the Rohingyas yet it was not fully applied.

Colonization of the Rohingya Homeland: There is a systemic program by the ruling Burma regime to alter the demography of Rohingya homeland of North Arakan. This includes extermination of the Rohingya population, confiscation and demolition of Rohingya properties, and construction of Pagodas, monasteries and Government buildings on the sites of demolished mosques and Muslim shrines, and confiscated Rohingya properties.

As if these measures are not enough to destroy Muslim identity, new non-Rohingya settlements with Pagodas and Buddhist monasteries are being built at every nook and corner of the North Arakan. Rohingyas are compelled by Government officials to ‘contribute’ money, food, material, or free labor to state-sponsored projects of colonization.

In the name of setting up “model or Natala (villages)” Rohingya properties are being handed out to outsiders while the original Rohingya owners are forcibly displaced.

De-Muslimization: In 2004, one of the religious teachers was tortured to death in detention. Most of the Rohingya-community leaders are now serving long prison times on false charges, related to citizenship. Others are forced to opt for a life of uncertainty as refugees outside.

Mosques and Muslim holy shrines have been demolished all over Arakan. All these crimes are done so as to eradicate Islamic heritage and Muslim identity of the Arakan. To accelerate this criminal objective, occasionally, Buddhist-Muslim riots are engineered that always result in heavy losses to Muslim lives and properties.

Anti-Muslim propagandas are routinely fed in the government controlled media. As of February 2003, books and taped speeches, insulting Islam and Muslims, have become quite common and are being openly sold and distributed.

Even Muslim cemeteries are not protected from ruin and abuses of the government. Buddhist dead bodies are now routinely buried at Muslim cemeteries, while the Rohingya are forced to pay the funeral fees.

Lack of Religious Freedom: Authorities often refuse requests for gatherings to celebrate traditional Muslim holidays and restrict the number of Muslims that can gather in one place.

In 2002, local authorities listed to demolish of nearly 40 mosques and religious community centers in Arakan.  But, 13 mosques were destroyed before the authorities called a halt at the request of the UNHCR.

However, to ensure that destroyed mosques were not rebuilt, they were replaced with government-owned buildings, monasteries, and Buddhist temples.

The historic Sandi Khan Mosque built in 1430 AD by the Arakan King Narameikhla in Mrauk-U was destroyed by army. The rubbles of the mosque are used to pave roads between new military base camps in the area. The localities of many mosques were turned into Buddhist monasteries and Pagodas

Rohingyas are not allowed to construct new places of worship and in obtaining permission to repair existing mosques is very difficult.

Depopulation:  The SPDC launches drive operation, create communal riots, and make forced relocation to sweep off the Muslim population. They force Buddhist-Burmans to move into Muslim territories.

Certain townships, such as Sandwe, Gwa, and Taung-gut, Ann and Punnagyun have been declared ‘Muslim-free-zones’ by government in 1983.

Marriage restriction is also a technique to reduce and control of Rohingys’ birth rates.

But more awful is the fact that rape of Rohingya women in detention camps or training centers, is an official military strategy to depopulate Rohingyas from their ancestral homes.

Because of in Rohingya community, rape is becoming an effective weapon to terrorize and convince them to flee or leave Burma. It is the most dreadful and humiliating way of “Ethnic Cleansing

Model Village: The SPDC’s policy of establishing “model village” in northern Arakan calling Burmans from Burma proper and Rakhines from inside Arakan State has resulted in the confiscation of lands from the Rohingya community.

The building of the model villages reportedly intensified after the formation of Nasaka in 1992.At present, over 40 model villages have been built in northern Arakan. These model villages were built by the forced labor of Rohingya people. Besides, the villagers have to provide money, rations, generators, cattle and materials for house buildings for the new comers.

More over, the Nasaka seized grazing pasture of Rohingya community and distributed it to model villagers.

These atrocious measures have forced the Rohingya to become landless, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and to eventually starve - forcing them out to cross the border into nearby Bangladesh for life and shelter.

The junta has a plan to turn the north Arakan into a Buddhist majority area, is making a serious demographic imbalance by bringing in more settlers.

Forced Labor & Militarization:, 15 battalions of army is being established in a single town of Buthidaung township. At present, there is no insurgency in that area. So the presence of this huge army is not to stop insurgency but to harass the local Rohingyas. 

Further, Rohingyas are subjected to give free labor and rations in cash and kinds. The north Arakan has turned into a militarized zone with increased violations of human rights.

Restriction of Movement: There is restriction on movement of the Rohingya inside Burma. They cannot go outside the Arakan, nor are they allowed freedom of movement within Arakan from one place to another without permission from the local authority.

No Rohingya is permitted to travel to Akyab, Rangoon or Burma proper even on serious medical ground. This inhuman measure has forcibly divided many Rohingya families. It has seriously affected them in all their national activities—social, cultural, religious and educational. 'The Rohingyas are being forced to live as if in a concentration camp.

Rohingyas need passes for even day trips to go to health clinics.'' According to Lewa, poverty-stricken villagers have been forced by local authorities to pay for travel passes to collect food aid distributed by the World Food Program (WFP).

''One pregnant woman was raped in south Maundaw on her way to collect her food package.'' The Rohingyas, largely rice farmers and laborers, are presently facing a ''food crisis'' due to a poor rice harvest and restrictions on the movement of food, said Lewa.

Politically motivated Arrest:  U Kyaw Min, an independent Rohingya Muslim MP and a member of Committee for Representing People’s Parliament (CRPP), was arrested on 17 March 2005, and was later given a 47-year jail term. He is currently languishing in the notorious Rangoon Insein Jail.

Moreover, his wife Khoteeza, their two daughters and a son were arrested on March 20, 2005 and each given 17 years for allegedly breaking the national identity and immigration laws.

Habsa, the sister of Kyaw Min’s wife Khoteeza, is a native of Buthidaung and she was married to a man from Sittwe and had been living there for nearly a year when she was arrested at the beginning of November for ‘overstepping the boundary’ and sentenced to six months in prison. Deprivation of Rights to Education: Since 1982, the Rohingya students are denied their basic rights to education. They cannot pursue higher studies while professional courses are also barred to them. It is important to point out that all professional institutes are situated outside Arakan. Thus, the Rohingya students are unable to study there because of such travel prohibition.

Since February 2001, Rohingya students have been facing more difficulties and problems to join the University. All the students including Rohingya across the 17 townships of Arakan State have to study in Sittwe University. But, Rohingya students were totally banned to go to Rangoon for higher education or other professional subjects.

Recently, the Rohingya students are prohibited from even going to Akyab (Sittwe), the capital of Arakan, to attend Sittwe University for their studies. As a result, many Rohingya students face uncertainty with their future studies. These draconian measures, barring the Rohingyas from attending university and professional institutes, are marginalizing them as the most illiterate section within the Burma population

Stealth of villagers’ Cattle: Burmese armies accompanied by notorious Natala villagers (model villagers) have been stealing cattle from Rohingya farmers in northern Arakan. The villagers need to watch their cattle round the clock.

If the owner wants to get his/her cow, he/she has to go directly to the concerned army camp to get the cattle after bribing kyat 20,000 to 50,000 according to the size of the cow or bull.

The Natala villagers also kill the cattle of Rohingya villagers with a spear while they are grazing on the pasture. The cows die within half an hour when the settlers push a small spear deeply into its noose. Then, the dead cow is carried to their homes for curry.

Over 95 percent of Rohingyas are farmers in northern Arakan and therefore, they depend largely on their farmlands and cattle. But, the army and Nasaka forces are systematically destroying their farmlands by confiscating and also destroying their livestock. The noose around the neck of the Rohingya people is rapidly tightening day by day and the remaining Rohingyas are facing an imminent threat of ultimate expulsion.

Restriction on Marriage: Since 1988, Nasaka has imposed marriage restrictions to the Rohingya community.  After payments, thousands of applications for the permission to get married remain. Sometimes, getting the permission could take one or two years.

For marriage permission, the bridegroom is clean shaven, to attain 25 years and the bride 18, not to bear more than two children.

For Rohingya youth getting married is a huge problem as they first need permission from local authorities. The permission is usually granted after payment of large bribes of kyat 50,000 to 100,000, which is too much for most people to pay.

Those who dared violate this ban are subject to heavy penalties, ''We know of at least five couples who were arrested and jailed in 2005 for getting married without permission from the local authorities,'' says Chris Lewa, lead researcher in 'The Arakan Project', an independent group monitoring human rights violations in the area. ''No marriage permission has been granted to a Rohingya since March 2005.'' One 25-year-old Rohingya man was ''beaten and tortured'' by the Burmese border police in the area, known by its local acronym NaSaKa, for marrying an 18-year-old Muslim woman.

On February 2006, a newly-weds Mohammed, 25, son of Muktar Ahammed and Shajeda Begum,20, daughter of Sayed Ahammed got marriage permission after paying Kyat 45,000 to the commander of Nasaka  of Sector No.(7) of Maungdaw Township, Arakan State. Both of the Bridegroom and bride are the inhabitants of Aley Than Kyaw village Track of Maungdaw Township.

On December 6, 2005, a new couple was identified as Mohamed Toha, 30, the bride groom, son of Abdul Khair and Khurshida Begum, 20, the bride, daughter of Mohamed Esuf crossed the Burma-Bangladesh border to tie the knot in Bangladesh because of not getting marriage permission from concerned authorities.

Sentry with No Bases: Rohingya villagers have to pay sentry at night in northern Arakan, Burma to watch the strangers not mentioned exactly who the strangers are. They have to watch by shouting and asking again and again that “Hay! Who are you?”, whether they see any human beings or not.

At least 20 to 30 sentry men per village were taken by the concerned forces to their camps from sentry posts and they had been kept by putting both of their legs into wooden stocks. Some of them were released after bribing kyat 5,000 to 10,000 per each.. But, others who were unable to pay the bribes have to remain in detained center at least 5 days doing hard works in day–time. Then in night, they were locked up at the wooden stocks again.

Arbitrary Taxation: Traditionally, Rohingyas are a farming community that depends on agricultural produce and breeding of cattle and fowls as domestic livestock. They are taxed heavily on food grains, including rice and various agricultural products.

Since 1992, the authorities have imposed a new taxation that included taxes levy on everything that a Rohingya may possess from shrimp, vegetable, tree, animal or bird (for  fowl) to roof and house. Even for a minor repair of their homes, they are forced to pay tax. They are required to report birth and death of a livestock to the authority while paying a fee.

The Rohingya have to pay taxes on everything, from cutting bamboos or woods in the jungle to fishing in the rivers and breeding of animals at homesteads. The Rohingya villagers have to pay yearly a new tree tax of kyat 200 per betel-nut tree and kyat 500 per coconut tree.  A Rohingya family have to pay kyat 500 when a new child is born and kyat 300 when a member dies.

Political Discrimination: Introduction of new citizenship law, SPDC arbitrarily brings forth the issue of 135 designated indigenous races.  Rohingyas were intentionally excluded from so-called 135, indigenous races and henceforth treated not only as foreigners but also as an undesired people. New citizenship securitization cards are not issued to them. As a result, for not having the NRC cards, they encountered thousands of hard ships in their daily life especially in the case of travel, ownership and higher education.

Rape Case: Nasaka and army are continuously committed rape to Rohingya women. They are using it as a weapon to frighten the Rohingya community. Some instances are:

On June 2, 2005, Rabia Khatun, 30, daughter of Abdul Amin, hailed from Nasir village of Buthidaung  township  was arrested and brought to the Nasaka Camp No. 21 of  Nasaka area No. 9, accusing her illegal pregnancy. During her arrest, she was gang raped by the Nasaka. Actually she was not pregnant and her husband is in Saudi Arabia. She was set free after bribing Kyat 100,000 to the Nasaka.

On August 25, 2005, Rohima Khatun, 30, a pregnant woman, daughter of Ullah Meah of Shilkhali village of Rathedaung Township was raped by army. Later, she gave birth to a dead baby.

Forced Eviction and Refugee Exodus: Forced eviction of the Rohingya villagers is launched occasionally throughout the year. Many centuries-old Rohingya settlements have already been uprooted throughout the North Arakan. The new arrivals often face arrests and/or “pushback” from the Bangladesh security forces.

Refugees in Bangladesh: Official discrimination and occasional riots against the Muslims have forced tens of thousands of Rohingyas to flee their homes for the safety of neighboring countries over the past decades.

In Bangladesh today there are approximately 20,000 “documented” Rohingya refugees are living now,  out of a quarter million that had arrived in 1991-92, escaping military persecution in Burma. They live in two camps of Kutupalong and Nayapara. Most of the original refugees were forcibly repatriated into Burma. The remaining refugees have refused to return because they fear human rights abuses, including religious persecution.

Unfortunately, the condition within those two refugee camps is not great and lack of adequate facilities for a healthy living. Children are deprived of their basic education and healthcare.

Besides, hundreds of “undocumented” Rohingyas are living outside these two camps in sub-human condition with all their uncertainty. Many refugees are camped at a roadside facility at Teknaf, a border town of Bangladesh. Unfortunately, there is no help from any quarter for these refugees.

Returning Rohingyas and those who did not leave Burma continue to face discrimination by the military junta because of their ethnicity and religion.

Conclusion: Rohingyas of Burma are the most unfortunate people in the world. Although they are one of the indigenous ethnic races of Burma and are the sons of the soils of Arakan, they are victims of continuous persecution by the Burmese military regimes. This ill-fated Rohingyas have been subjected to massive human rights violations under the Burmese junta because of their race, religion and culture. They are not equal before the law.

There is a very systemic, organized, concerted and criminal design by the SPDC authorities, which can appropriately be termed as ethnic cleansing, genocide and socio-cultural degradation of the Rohingya people in Arakan State of Burma. If the process of marginalization and gross violations of human rights against the Rohingya people are allowed to continue there won’t be a single Rohingya left in Arakan within the next twenty years.

All refugees as well as those who remained in the country are being treated by SPDC as foreigners and non-nationals in utter disregards of their millennia-old settlements and establishments of history and glorious past in Arakan.

In Burma license is needed to slaughter goats and cattle. But no license is required to kill a Rohingya. If an elephant or a tiger died in the forest, the SPDC authorities took action to the nearby villagers whether they commit it or not.  If the authority kills an innocent Rohingya, there is no action at all. This means that Rohingya has less right than the animals. In fact, Rohingyas are treated worse than animals. Rohingya is one of the most persecuted and forgotten peoples on earth.

Fayas Ahmed
Editor
Kaladan Press Network

This paper was submitted at First Rohingya Consultation: Working together to find a solution, on 2-3 August 2006, Sigha Dum Conference Room, Faculty of Political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, Organized by Centre for Social Development, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, In cooperation with the National Reconciliation Programme  (NRP)