The Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) has accused the UN’s Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU) of pandering to Burmese government authorities in erasing Rohingya villages from maps of northern Rakhine State, and continuing to use the derogatory term “Ku Lar” in their labeling of Rohingya villages.

The village name circled reads “Min Gyi (Ku Lar)” from the Maungdaw township map accessed on  12 June, 2020

In a press release on May 28, ARNO revealed that over 20 Rohingya villages burned down in 2017 had been erased from new MIMU maps of Maungdaw, in accordance with updated lists of villages in the January 2020 Gazette of the Burmese government’s General Administration Department (GAD).

MIMU maps of northern Rakhine State also continued to contain the term “Ku Lar” next to the names of Rohingya villages, even though ARNO had written an open letter a year ago to Knut Osby, then UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, requesting that the UN stop using this racist terminology.

ARNO provided screenshots of recent MIMU maps showing the word “Ku Lar” still being used, and Rohingya villages erased around Myin Hlut, in southern Maungdaw.

The Maungdaw township map accessed on 3 May, 2017, showing the coastal area around Myin Hlut.
The Maungdaw township map accessed on 12 June, 2020, showing the coastal area around Myin Hlut.

In the second week of May, 2020, the Maungdaw township administrator and other officials came to Alethankyaw village, near Myin Hlut, to persuade the few remaining Rohingya in the area to resettle to northern Maungdaw, but the villagers refused.

“If the government tries to resettle my village to northern Maungdaw, I won’t return,” said Rahamat Ullah, a community leader from Alethankyaw staying in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. “The government is planning to resettle non-Rohingya to southern Maungdaw, as it is a profitable business area,”

Ali, a refugee youth from the same area, said: “Southern Maungdaw is rich in agricultural land and fisheries, so the government wants to take it over. Our family has lived there for centuries, and we insist on returning to our original village.”

ARNO accused the UN of being complicit in the Burmese government’s deliberate erasure of Rohingya villages — a further step in the genocide of the Rohingya, and “a clear violation of the International Court of Justice Order for Provisional Measures which directs Myanmar to preserve all evidence of genocide.”

ARNO urged MIMU donors, which include the UK and Canadian governments, to investigate these matters and “suspend funding for MIMU operations until they are overhauled to ensure they are not uncritically serving the Myanmar government’s hegemonic agenda in the ethnic states, including genocide against the Rohingya.”


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