By Nurul Islam
Du Chee Yar Tan popularly known as Kilaidong is a village 6 miles south of the border town of Maungdaw in Burma’s Arakan/Rakhine State. It is a farming society with about 4000 Rohingya people. During recent years a Buddhist Rakhine settler village with a police outpost was established alongside the Rohingya settlement.
U Aung Zan Phyu, a settler Buddhist Rakhine is the chairman of the Du Chee Yar Tan despite more than its 90% population is Rohingya. Buddhist extremists under him, time and again, carried out extortion, looting and criminal atrocities against the villagers in connivance with the police. Helpless people who complained to the authorities for redress and remedies were met with reprisals. These have been a regular phenomenon all over Rohingya homeland of North Arakan.
According to the villagers, on 7 January, without any provocation, an organized Rakhine Buddhist gang had seized and looted a small group of Rohingyas who were coming from Buthidaung Township through a mountain pass. Under the instruction of Chairman Aung Zan Phyu, they were brought and held in his Rakhine village. Of them some escaped away from the detainment while the rest numbering 8 were massacred on 9 January. Upon the tragic news when the Rohingya villagers were alarmed the police with Rakhine Buddhists under U Aung Zan Phyu were trying to put them down.
On 13 January the police led by notorious sergeant Aung Kyaw Thein together with Buddhist mobs started terrorizing the villagers and at one stage raped a woman and striped her of all ornaments. When the angry people dared them the marauders and rapists quickly withdrew by gun-firing. Afterwards, contingents of police, Lon Htin, army and organized Buddhist mobs started systematic killing, rape, destruction and torture against the peaceful-living villagers alleging that the police sergeant was missing.
Villagers, most of them male members, deserted the village in search of safe shelters. On 14 January four truck loads of women, children and elderly were carried to the Maungdaw police station where they were seriously tortured into signing blank sheets of papers or to extract confession. The following day of 15 January women and children were brought back and put in the custody of the elders of nearby Gowdusara village with stern warning not allow them move into their homes and village.
The village was sealed off. No Rohingyas, UN staff or media groups were allowed in except Buddhist mobs equipped with lethal weapons turning the village a “killing field”. The precise number of death could not be attained. However, the UN, NGOs and rights groups estimated the number of death to be more than 40 although many estimated it to be 60-100 — most of them feeble, old men, women and children — and many more missing. All their properties, food grains and cattle were plundered and carried away which they are now selling below market prices. Even young children were removed from their mothers. It is a massacre that warrants immediate international intervention, on ground of humanitarianism, on the doctrine of “Responsible to Protect -R2P” when the Burmese government is annihilating its own subjects, the Rohingya community.
In an interview with Irrawaddy, U Shwe Maung, a Rohingya MP said “the entre population of the village, nearly 4,000 people, had fled their homes…They should let the people get back to inside the village”. He continued “I just got five photos of dead people…when I get full confirmation; I will raise it to Parliament.” The Chairman of the Union National Development Party (UNDP) Abu Tahay called for the authorities to thoroughly investigate and present their findings in a transparent way.
This savage and excessive killing of people was masterminded by chief of the No.4 Police Battalion Col. Tin Ko Ko and Maungdaw district administrator U Aung Myint Soe. Dead bodies lying in the villages, concealing in the jungles and floating on the creeks were quickly collected and destroyed leaving no trace of evidence. All these have been done with the knowledge of the State and Union governments. Yet the government boorishly denied any knowledge of butchery without feelings of guilt or anxiety although considerable compelling evidences have had come out.
The murderous Thein Sein government lied when it’s Deputy Information Minister and spokesman Ye Htut denied any information about killing on the sideline of ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Burma’s ancient city of Pagan. It is a shame for the whole ASEAN community to allow Burma/Myanmar, who rejected with stubborn resistance the proposal to discuss with its ASEAN friends the longstanding Rohingya problem of regional and international concern for solution, to take its chair. Instead, it is exacerbating a serious, deadly situation in Arakan promoting slow-burning genocide on Rohingya population. It is worried that more such attacks have been planned.
U.N. Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana said the Myanmar government “must, under international law, conduct prompt, effective and impartial investigation.” 1 In a statement UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said a “full, prompt and impartial investigation” was needed. In a joint statement issued by British and US embassies in Rangoon urged the government “to thoroughly investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the violence, whether civilian or security personnel…Government actions to date have clearly been insufficient.”2 Condemning the violence the British FCO Minister Rt Hon Hugo Swire (MP) said “I am appalled to hear reports that at least forty people, mainly Rohingya women and children, have been killed in Maungdaw township, Rakhine State. I call on the Burmese government to launch an immediate and transparent investigation….The Burmese government must continue to provide security for all communities in Rakhine State and to create a situation whereby international assistance can be provided.”3 We welcome all these statements and other demands and recommendations put up by many other NGOs and rights groups.
Defying the international opinion the Buddhist Rakhine torched Du Chee Yar Tan village on the night of 28th January whilst more than one hundred security forces were still guarding the village deserted by almost all Rohingya male members. The Rohingya from nearby villages, who rushed to put out the fires were prevented where, according to eye witnesses, the security forces were directly involved in setting fire on the houses.
Experts in international law have warned that eights stages of genocide are in play in the case of Rohingya. “The tragic events unravelling since May 28, 2012 have made it obvious that the Rohingya people are victims of eight stages of genocide—Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination and Denial, — as clearly documented by Professor Gregory H. Stanton, President of Genocide Watch.” 4 Here the vexed issue of priorities is ‘real action’ with ‘proactive policy’ to save the lives of the Rohingya people before it is too late. While good sense does not prevail in the mind of the Burmese government, when there is no change of its attitude towards Rohingya, it would be a futile exercise to seek protection and justice from the perpetrators who have not the least sense of human rights and democratic values but who only are interested to exterminate the whole Rohingya population.
In two separate protest rallies in front of the Burmese embassy and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London organized by the Rohingya community in the U.K. on 24 January 2014, the Chairman of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) charged that the civil-military hybrid government of Thein Sein is fully responsible for allowing former Yugoslavia-like genocide. He said Du Chee Yar Tan massacre was carried out as a part of the “Rohingya Extermination policy” of the Burmese government and in continuation of the genocidal onslaughts that occurred and reoccurred against Rohingya and other Muslims from June 2012 killing many hundreds of Muslims and devastating their large settlements in Arakan and other parts of Burma. This is but a direct reaction from the Union Government and Rakhine State Authority dominated by killer Dr. Aye Maung led Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) to the international outcries and Rohingya’s clamour for justice, tolerance and protection.
In a press release dated 22 January 2014 ARNO strongly condemned the organized killings with impunity of the Rohingya villagers of Du Chee Yar Tan (Kelaidong) and
- Demanded Burmese government to end forthwith all killings and violence in Du Chee Yar Tan and other Rohingya areas, to release all arrested people and to allow all displaced villagers to get into their homes with full security and humanitarian supports;
- Requested to form a UN Commission of Inquiry to fully investigate the Du Chee Yar Tan massacre and all other genocidal onslaughts for true findings and to bring the perpetrators to the book;
- Requested the international community for urgent humanitarian intervention in Arakan in order to prevent further deaths and destruction and to save the life, property, honour and dignity of Rohingya where the government is the perpetrator.
Last not least how long should Rohingya and other vulnerable people wait? Will the Rohingya have to wait until they are totally exterminated from their ancestral homeland where they have their homes, their mosques and their dead ones?
- The statement dated 17 January 2014 of the Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana
- Joint statement of British and US embassies in Rangoon on January 17, 2014
- Press release issued by FCO on 23 January, 2014. ,
- The Declaration from the first Rohingya Conference in the USA on the Rohingya of Burma (Myanmar) held in University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee on December 14, 2013. Excerpts from the speech by Prof. Gregory H. Stanton at the conference.