May 5, 2017

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A Rakhine mob pelted Rohingya 'firefighters' with stones and brickbats as they tried to put out a fire in the Aung Minglar neighbourhood in Akyab city onWednesday. 

At around 9pm, three houses were gutted by fire. Locals rushed to the scene to put it out, but  a Rakhine mob had already gathered at the scene which pelted the rescuers with a hail pf brickbats and stones. Three houses completely burned down in the event. The cause pof the fire is not known, but the response of the Rakhine mob has been met with constrernation by local Rohingyas.

Incidentally Aung Minglar is the only neighbourhood in the main town of the state capital where Rohingyas can live, since the riots of 2012. Akyab was once a mixed city where Rakhines had only a slim majority over the Rohingyas. But thousands of Rohingyas left after the riots, and the rest of the Muslim populace has been herded into the Aung Minglar ghetto where living conditions are dismal. The Muslims are guarded so that they cannot leave the Aing Minglar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 5, 2017

Buthidaung- Police arrested and tortured seven men from the Taung Bazar area of Buthidaung. 

On Wednesday early morning, a force numbering around 20, crept into the area through the Kur Khali neibhbourhood. They went into a house by house search and detained around seven men without any specific charges. 

Five were later released the next day. According to their testimonies, they were severely beaten up on a continuos basis and no explanation but curses were given to them. They are still in a critical condition and suffering from emotional and physical trauma due to the torture meted out to them. 

The conditions of the two others are not known but it is assumed they are also under brutal torture in custody. 

Hundreds of Rohingya prisoners have been tortured to death in recent years. 

 

 

 

May 3, 2017

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Maungdaw- A tense atmosphere is prevailing in the village tract of Koe Tan Kauk in Rathedaung as the Hlun Htein is arresting innocent civilians on false allegations of robbery.

Since April 25, 13 men, including a school student has been arrested and taken to the Hlun Htein camp where they were beaten and threatened with dire consequences if they did not come up with ransom money.

The amount of money paid for their release has varied from 100,000 to 500,000 kyats, depending on the financial ability of the arrested people.

All the arrested men and boys have been released.

The latest arrests occurred on Monday when two men, Abdur Rahim and Rahim Ullah were arrested in the daylight hours in two separate raids. Abdur Rahim was released following the payment of 100,000 kyats while Rahim Ullah had to pay 300,000 kyats.

The nature of the arrests has led to fears this will be a long term operation where many harass innocent villagers will be harassed with the purpose of making easy money for the Hlun Htein, say locals.

Multiple sources have confirmed that all the arrested men are dependent on logging or fishing for a living and have no connection with criminal activities. 

May 1, 2017

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Maungdaw- Three children, one teenager and an elderly man were severely assaulted on Saturday by Tatmadaw personal in Kullung, Maungdaw South. The youngest victim is only eight years old.

One of them, 16 year Md Ayoub is in critical condition.

Ayoub was coming back to his village from the grazing grounds when Tatmadaw personal fell on him and started beating him up with wooden batons. They only stopped after he was severely injured.

The same group of Tatmadaw men then chased other cow herders and assaulted those they could get their hands on.

The injured include Saleh Ahmed, 55, Abdu Shukkur, 12, Hefzur Rahman, 11 and Omar Farooque, 8.

Livestock such as cattle and sheep are major assets and a source of income for Rohingya households. Activists say this is a calculated attack to deter the Rohingyas, mostly small boys from taking their cattle and other livestock to the grazing grounds, and thus close down another source of livelihood for the beleaguered community.

Rohingya men, most of them currently dependent on logging and fishing for their survival have faced severe restrictions from going to the woods and waterways to earn a livelihood. Many who ventured out have faced attacks by Rakhine miscreants or security forces.

All of this seems to be a calculated ploy to enforce an economic blockade, create artificial starvation and force the populace to move out to Bangladesh, according to Rohingya Muslim activists.

Meanwhile the teenage boy Ayoub continues to be in a critical condition till filing of the report.  

April 29, 2017

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Maungdaw- Local administration officials and Hlun Htein forces went to the destroyed village tracts of Kya Ri Prang and Na Sa Gru in Maungdaw North and ordered displaced people to move their homes out of their former places to the marshlands.

On Friday, the officials went to these two villages where former residents of the village were now living in temporary shelters built on their former homesteads. The two villages were razed during the first days of the clearance operation and there are now no houses left standing. As a result, the Rohingyas who did not escape to Bangladesh have now erected small huts in place of their homesteads.

However, officials told the Rohingyas that as soon as their houses were hit by government forces, they have legally become the property of the government. So as per government order, they are to relocate to an area designated by them.

The area designated for them is on the marshlands, that gets submerged during the rainy season. Locals say it is impossible to stay in that area even in normal times, and during the rainy season, they can only live in boats and not houses.

Much of the residents of these two villages have fled to Bangladesh during the crackdown and most have not come back. Locals allege this is a ploy by the government to make the few remaining residents of Kya Ri Prang and Na Sa Gru leave for Bangladesh.

Earlier in February, Hlun Htein officials told villagers in Sa Li Frang, Ra Bai La, Sau Ra Gazi Bil and Bor Gazi Bil that all their land property previously held by the Muslims now belong to the government.

During the three month clearance operation, heinous crimes were committed by Tatmadaw led forces in these villages including throwing infant children into the fire, firing randomly at civilians, raping and abducting women, gruesome torture in custody and so on. 

April 26, 2017

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Maungdaw- A Rakhine mob set fire on an ancient mosque in Zay De Pyin in Rathedaung and then surrounded Rohingya Muslims who extinguished the fire.

At around 9.30am on Tuesday, a small group of miscreants set fire to the mosque which is said to have been built in the late 19th century. When local Muslims rushed to the spot, hundreds of Rakhines came to the spot and surrounded them, shouting out obscenities against the Rohingyas and the Islamic religion.

However, the Rohingyas managed to douse the fire though it did cause some damage to the interior.

Hlun Htein personal were present at the spot but did not do anything at first. However, at around 2am, they arrested eight Rohingyas who along with others were protesting the arson attack.

The arrested Rohingyas were released at around 8am the next morning, but were assaulted in custody and threatened with dire consequences if they pursued the matter. It has also been said they would later be called in for questioning.

A tense situation is prevailing in the area as Rakhine gangs maintain a vigilant position, with many fearing a repeat of 2012-like riots in the near future. 

April 25, 2017

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Maungdaw- A religious student is missing after being apprehended by Hlun Htein forces in the restive village tract of Maung Hna Ma in Maungdaw North.

Zubair was walking in the street on Tuesday at around 8am when the security personal intercepted and searched him. They found a phone with a Bangladesh SIM card in his possession.

Generally, in these cases, the Rohingyas are let off with a fine and low level assault. However, the Hlun Htein treated Zubair much more roughly and have taken him to an undisclosed location. As a result, there is tension in the area concerning his whereabouts.

Incidentally many Rohingyas keep Bangladeshi phones to keep in touch with friends and relatives on the other side of the border. At present, almost half of the Rohingya populace reside in the neighbouring country.

Local sources are saying security forces are getting tougher as there seems to be a sentiment that the ‘final solution’ i.e. the complete destruction and expulsion of Rohingya Muslims is about to come and as a result they are adopting more stringent measures against Rohingyas.

Maung Hna Ma was also one of the villages where there was a high level of violence during the recent crackdown. 

April 28, 2017

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Maungdaw- A Police officer sent from Buthidaung to investigate the fire in an ancient Rathedaung mosque has told local Rohingyas on Wednesday to accept the fact that the fire was not an arson attack, but an accident.

The official told locals in Zay De Pyin that there is of course little doubt that a Buddhist nationalist gang has set fire on the mosque. However, he said that if the Rohingyas went on to publicise this arson attack, nearby Buddhist villagers and nationalist gangs will get furious and possibly launch an attack on the Muslim settlement. They will also block the Muslims from leaving their villages and create a blockade, leading to food shortages and other problems in the village.

Under such circumstances, the official said it is best that the Rohingyas say the fire in the mosque was caused by candles.

The mosque has however long been operating on solar power.

Charges have also been pressed against the Imam of the mosque for negligence, and eight members of the mosque committee were arrested, though later released.

Incidentally, at around 9.30am on Tuesday, a small group of miscreants set fire to the ancient mosque in the area. When local Muslims rushed to the spot, hundreds of Rakhines came to the mosque and surrounded them, shouting out obscenities against the Rohingyas and the Islamic religion.

However, the Rohingyas managed to douse the fire though it did cause some damage to the interior. As the incident went viral on social media, Rakhine supported groups have been propagating the view that Rohingyas set fire to their own mosques to discredit Buddhist nationalist groups. 

April 25, 2017

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Maungdaw- Tensions continue in the restive village tract of Lound Don in Maungdaw North as the Tatmadaw retains a huge presence in the surrounding hills and forests.

People have stayed cleared of the hills where they earn their livelihoods by logging, and even the small shepherd boys have been unable to graze their cattle. The blockade is creating another potential disaster for the already volatile rural economy ravaged by months of conflict. At the same time, the villagers remain in a high level of alert, ready to hide in case the army launches another raid, which it has resumed over recent weeks in Lound Don.

Lound Don was one of the village tracts targeted by the Tatmadaw during the clearance operation last year, with many killed, women raped and mosques desecrated.

However, while since January, much of the area has experienced an eerie calm, tensions have broken out in Lound Don over the last month, with continuous raids. No deaths have been confimred, but there has been arrest and brutal torture, with many of the men having their beards burned.

Torture of Rohingyas continue to be a common occurrence. Hundreds have been killed and many more maimed due to torture by security forces.  

April 23, 2017

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Maungdaw- Villagers at So Parang, Rathedaung have been given strict orders to stay out of the hills, in what looks like a rigorous and systematic measure to starve the Muslim community out of the area, according to local sources.

Announcements were made by loudspeakers and banners were hung throughout the neighbourhoods of the village tract ordering the Rohingyas not to go to the hills.

As most Rohingyas in the village are loggers, the order will result in mass starvation in an area already suffering from chronic food shortages as all livelihood options are now absent.

Rohingya villagers in townships including Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Mamra, Pathor Keela and Akyab have been surviving in a state of blockade since the riots of 2012. Since October, 2016, the blockade has extended to parts of Maungdaw and Buthidaung.

 Rohingya activists have long alleged this is a systematic effort to keep the Rohingyas away from the woods and waterways from where they can earn a living, thus create starvation and force the beleaguered community to move out of the area.

However, this week’s order in So Parang seems to be an even more methodical approach, creating concerns the government will be improvising on the blockade tactic to force Rohingyas to migrate out of the country without capturing the international attention that came with the recent crackdown. 

April 28, 2017

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Maungdaw- A gang of human traffickers is once again active in three of the coastal village tracts of Maungdaw South. The gang led by four people, one based in Hassu Rata, one in Knone Na Para, and two in Gozon Dia are operating openly in full view of village authorities and the law enforcement agencies. Concerned citizens are worried about the resumption of human trafficking, but are forced to stay quiet, as the gang has many miscreants in their service, and more importantly are backed by the security services.

A ship is also reportedly waiting in the sea for their service.

The gang is convincing naïve men and women that this time, it would be much easier to reach Malaysia. They are saying the sufferings Rohingyas had to endure in the sea vessels and the jungle camps of Thailand are an affair from the past, and new migrants will not have to face the same problems.

Myanmar authorities, especially Hlun Htein forces were once heavily involved in the human trafficking by sea. However, the discovery of mass graves near jungle camps in Thailand led to an international outcry in mid 2015 and Myanmar cracked down on the illegitimate smuggling operations it had once whole heartedly supported.

The human trafficking operation served two interests of the Myanmar authorities - - it provided a lucrative multi billion dollar business, and it helped them get rid of the Rohingya people, a populace they have promised to expel out the country.

It is not known whether Myanmar will once again start human trafficking this year. The smuggling business has not been too active for almost two years.

However, it will also be difficult to conduct the business in these season as the seas are rough. 

April 25, 2017

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Buthidaung- Hlun Htein forces entered Yon Chaung and seized identification papers from eight people.

The forces entered the village at around 10 am and launched a house by house search, seemingly to check if all the residents were local people enlisted in the family list. However, they alleged that eight of the men had suspicious papers, though they have been residing in the village for a long time and had their names in the family list.

All their identification papers were seized and the eight men have been asked to report to the station at a later date. It is likely their entire families are about to face similar circumstances.

In the absence of papers, Rohingya Muslims can face all sorts of baseless allegations such as being terrorists from another part of the country or a recent intruder from Bangladesh.

In such cases, victims are often forced to leave the country to escape arrest and torture. 

April 23, 2017

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Maungdaw- A teenage boy was severely assaulted and left in an unconscious state by Rakhine shopkeepers in a marketplace.

On Thursday at around 2pm, 17 year Shafi Ullah, a water carrier by profession went to Taung Pyo to collect dues from some Rakhine shopkeepers who owed him money. But instead of giving him the money, shopkeepers fell on him and brutally beat him up. They only ceased the attack once Shafi fell unconscious.  

Rohingyas at the spot later took him to a local hospital but they refused to treat him. Most hospitals in the state don’t grant entry to Muslim patients.

Shafi was later smuggled across the border to Bangladesh for medical treatment. He gained consciousness a day later and is still in a critical condition. 

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