Villagers summoned for meeting about census in Maungdaw

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Villagers from Block number 4, Gaw Dhu Thar Ya and Bassara (Tha Win Chaung) including village administration officers and religious leaders were summoned by the concerned authority of Maungdaw and held meetings regarding the census of Rohingya, said one of the local village Administration officer from Aley Than Kyaw who denied to be named.

The Block number 4 of Maungdaw municipal area was held at Primary School of Maungdaw football ground on June 21 at about 10:00pm, led by Soe Myint Htun, an Immigration officer of Burma border guard headquarters, said Halim, a Human Rights watch from Maungdaw.

At the meeting, the officer and Rohingya participants argued so many issues about the census and self-identification of Rohingya, Halim said.

The officer ordered to participate in census with Race named “Bengali” and Rohingya denied to use the word “Bengali”, said Amin, an elder who participated in the meeting.

The officer again asked the participants, why used Bengali during the period of Nasaka (Burma border security force) and Rohingya replied that The Nasaka used by themselves in their records, now you are using under the Headline –illegal entered Bengali- which was not used in the period of Nasaka, Amin said.

“If we seized the white cards and 3 folders old NRC cards, what will you do at that time, if you are not participated in census process with Bengali,” said the officer Soe Myint Htun.

The Rohingya replied we will wait the situation and do for our safety.

You are thinking the great expectations on Bangladesh for not participating census as Bengali, the officer asked the Rohingya in the meeting, but Rohingya said no, we are Burmese citizens before and now. We don’t expected for help of Bangladesh.

It is not easy to be a citizen – now you are not able to enter as professional in the university- and we will destroy every things for your survival, said the officer.

We were able to attend the professional line in University before, but you are making us now restriction on movement, heath, education, marriage and etc… which make us not to participate, the Rohingya said.

The officer said he will send the report to the higher authority about the meeting and all the participants left the meeting, said Mohamed, a participant.

Similarly, more than 150 village elders including village administrators and religious leaders were participated at meeting at high school of Aley Than Kyaw on June 21, at around 10:30 am, said one of the local village elder from Aley Than Kyaw.

The police officer of Aley Than Kyaw camp, Township administration officer, immigration officers and others participated in the meeting.

In the meeting, the Township Administration officer U Kyi San discussed many different issues with the village leaders and administration officers regarding the present situation of Arakan state, said the elder.

The officer told in the meeting that every Administrator and elder have to follow the order of concerned authority and has responsibility to protect villages. Some anti-government groups have been trying to enter Burma at this moment, according to a participant of the meeting.

The officer also said that every villager has right to participate in census as it is the order of higher authority.

The officer further said, “You (people) claim yourselves as Rohingya, but you are not recognized by government as Rohingya, you are Bengali people and to get citizenship is not easy. So you must participate in census. If anyone doesn’t comply with the order, he/she will be punished according to the law.”

One village elder said, “The concerned authorities are terrorizing the Rohingya Muslim to get “Bengali” in place of Rohingyas in census.”

During the meeting, one villager Administrator named Sayedullah of Aley Than Kyaw asked the officer that, “I request and explain villagers of Aley Than Kyaw regarding the census, but the villagers are not follow.

Many people, outside and inside say, the present quasi-military government of Burma is moving into democracy, but in fact, it is not changing in rural areas, especially in minority areas. It is worse than before.

President’s mind set is not changed, so far, though he is wearing civilian clothes”, said a politician.

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