Report by Sindhi Khan | Written M.S. Anwar
October 13, 2013
Maung Daw Clock Tower Junction (Unknown Photo Source)
The world witnesses how Myanmar government frequently attempts to forcibly Bengalize Rohingyas in Arakan. Hence, in this regard, authority in Maung Daw District is now taking pre-emptive actions to completely wipe out ‘Rohingya’ identity during 2014 Population Census all over Myanmar.
This time, many district-level officers attended the monthly meeting with the village administrators held at the office of Maung Daw Administration at 1:30PM on 3rd October 2013. The officers attending the meeting were the head of the Maung Daw District Administration (U Aung Myint Soe), the head of Maung Daw Township Administration (U Kyi Than), the head of Maung Daw District Police (U Shwe Thein), Commissioner of Hlun Hteins (Security Force) [at the former NaSaKa Headquarter in Kyi Kan Pyein (Khawar Bil)], Maung Daw District Legal Advocate and Maung Daw District Immigration Head. (Note: Maung Daw District includes both Maung Daw Townships and Buthidaung Townships.)
The respective officers delivered speeches, threats and abuses against Rohingya people. Below mentioned are some excerpts of the speeches by the different officers.
The head of the Maung Daw District Administration was in abusive mood and said “you, Bengali people, entered Myanmar yesterday. Despite that, you people are annoying us a lot by claiming yourselves “Rohingya or such and such” and making us at our wit’s ends. Don’t claim so and be fussy during the fortcoming 2014 Population Census. If you happen to claim ‘Rohingya’, we will punish you according to the law. No matter how much you scream, we will not give you even citizenship let alone thinking of ethnic rights. You may just get third-class citizenship. We are telling you in advance. Don’t create drama by claiming yourselves as ‘Rohingya or whatsoever.’
Muslims living in central Myanmar are also Bengalis. They have to pay tax to live there. We are not charging any tax from you to live here. You are given rights to own lands here. Yet, why are you making us at out wit’s end? If you continue to annoy us, we will not sympathize you any longer. We will punish you according to the law.
Only the government can name a community. You can’t do it on your own. Be it the name, Rohingya or whatsoever. You can’t do it. You must accept our decision and live here as we say. If you fail to do so, we will punish you according to the law.”
During every monthly meeting, the head of Maung Daw District Adminstration always scolds and threatens Rohingya village administrators. He always abuses the terms ‘Bengali Kulars’ against Rohingyas. (Note: Bengali is a term used by Myanmar authority and racists in Myanmar to Bengalize Rohingyas and against Rohingyas in derogatory sense, while ‘Kular’ is a notorious word used to demean any Indian descent in Myanmar). Therefore, Rohingya village administrators get afraid whenever he is about to deliver a speech. At the same time, they also mentally get prepared to take up his abuse.
Besides, the District Legal Advocate said during his speech “during 2014 Population Census, we don’t expect you to create any problems. You, village administrators, must be responsible for it. No matter what you call yourself, Rohingya or another, it is only the right of the government to name a community as they like. You must accept government’s decision. You must follow government’s rulings. If anyone happens to follow it, we will effectively punish the village administrators and those who fail to follow it.
Though many officers were using abusive language during their speeches, there were few officers like the head of the District Immigration who delivered speech gently.
What has been mentioned by far is enough for one to realize how Myanmar government is trying to take individual and collective rights away from Rohingya people subjecting them to a condition of new form of slavery. Similarly, international community are aware of the fact that the motive of Myanmar government behind wiping out their historical identity ‘Rohingya’ is not but genocidal.
Written by M.S. Anwar based on the report by Sindhi Khan in Arakan. M.S. Anwar can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org