Villagers face difficulty for firewood collection

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The villagers (Rohingya) of Khonzabill village are recently facing difficulties to go mountain side for firewood collecting, Mohin from Maungdaw south said. The Khonzabill village admin officer Syed Alam told the villagers to get permission for collecting fire woods from forest, need to pay forest department and Burma border guard police (BGP) camp, said Omar from the locality.

The village admin officer collected kyat 2,000 to 7,000 per family, depended on their wealthy to get permission to go mountain side to collect firewoods for whole village, Omar more added.

The forest officer and BGP camp demanded 200,000 and 500,000 kyats for whole village, but the village admin officer collected from village more than two million from more than 500 families, Omar further added. “The rest money will go to the pocket of village admin officer and his collaborators.”

To collect the money, the village admin officer and his collaborators – Mohamed Rofique, Roshid Ullah, Shomsul Alam and Yasin – have been collecting money from the villagers since February 9, according to villagers.

The BGP camp was set up near the village on 2015 under the Alet Than Kyaw BGP commanding office and all the villagers must cross the BGP camp while they want to go forest for firewood collecting, Rashid, an elder from the village.

The villagers who are unable to pay are being threatened to be arrested and handed over to the police by village Admin officer, Rashid said.

The concerned authorities always make plans how to extort money from Rohingya community and to push them into troubles, Rashid more added.

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