February 8, 2017
Hlun Htein officers, state government officials and village authorities held a meeting with locals from the destroyed village tracts of Ra Bai La, Sau Ra Gazi Bil and Bor Gazi Bil on Monday.
The villagers have earlier been ordered by local authorities to report at a local school in the area for a very important meeting.
Village authorities started the meeting by saying it was very unfortunate the Muslims in the area had to suffer through no fault of their own. They however said it was also not the fault of the Tatmadaw who were merely doing their job by responding to terrorists. While they understood the terrorists were few and did not represent most of the people in the community, it was their fault that they were suffering like that.
The authorities also said the terrorists were now living a luxurious life in hotels in foreign countries while the Muslims suffered in this country.
Another official however said that in the aftermath of the violence, the villagers burned down their own houses to garner sympathy from the international community. He said there was no use now debating over what happened but under the laws of Myanmar, those houses that have been burned down were now the property of the government and the Muslims were not allowed to resettle there.
The message has been greeted with disbelief and sarcasm as the entire village tracts have been burned down by the army in mid November. Some of the Rohingyas however pointed out that there was some land besides the burned down houses which were not affected by the fire and whether it was now permissible for them to settle there. The officials however said that was unlikely but they would raise the issue with the Tatmadaw and inform them.
They however told the Rohingyas there was no need to worry as the government would resettle the people of Sa Li Frang, Sau Ra Gazi Bil, Bor Gazi Bil and Ra Bai La somewhere else. They asked the locals to look forward to bright future where the government will provide them with a better village complete with food, education and healthcare.
At the end of the meeting, the Muslims said there was absolutely no need for the government to take such efforts to resettle them elsewhere. Rather if they were given permission, they would go back to the old villages and would repair their damaged settlements without any help from the government. The response irritated the officials who reminded the men that all the burned houses were government property. They went away saying there would have to a decision before the monsoon season.
Incidentally Sau Ra Gazi Bil, Bor Gazi Bil, Ra Bai La and Sa Li Frang was destroyed by helicopter gunships and rocket launchers after protesters attacked army men who were raping Muslim women. At least 150 people including women and children died in these raids.