Sittwe, Arakan State
: Arkan State government again imposed Emergency Act 144 and dusk-to-dawn curfew today at about 4:00 pm after Rakhine mobs attacked all INGOs – aids working groups ‘offices and its residences, according to residents and official.Rakhine mobs were attacking all the INGOs office in Sittwe where the security force didn’t able to control the angry Rakhine mobs and the authority feared it will become more in later. So, the authority imposed the Emergency Act 144 and 6:00pm to 6:00am curfew, according to government officials and local residents.
The security force – police – provided security for all NGOs staffs and had evacuated all the staffs from the offices and residents to a police station hall after INGOs offices and their private residences came under attack and will fly to Rangoon the tomorrow, said a source close to the NGO, who declined to be identified.
Rakhine mobs violence behavior to INGOs office after a female worker from Malteser International removed a Buddhist flag – in relation to a protest against the census in which protestors were required to fly- from the front of the office and placed it in her pocket, which was interpreted by some locals as disrespectful because of the flag’s proximity to her lower body, according to Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing.
Sittwe residents alleged a Malteser aid worker had taken down a Buddhist flag in an improper way, hurting local residents’ sensitivities and prompting a violent response, he more added.
But, a staff from the Malteser International rejected the allegation and said “Our housekeeper flew one of these flags at our office which the programme coordinator removed later on March 26, at about 6 or 6:30pm in accordance with our policy of no religious or political insignia. She did not disrespect the flag in any way.”
A mob of about 50 people arrived at the Malteser office and began shouting. That crowd subsequently grew and became increasingly more threatening after two hours of removing the flags. The attacking to NGOs offices were increasing more today, the staff said.
“All our windows were smashed with rocks, and equipment was destroyed and the situation was very worrying and difficult to make sense of because of a lack of available information,” the staff added.
“I would like to stress that this is a broader issue of antagonism towards INGOs, not an isolated response to the flag incident,” the staff more said.
Solidarity International, the offices of UNICEF and UNOCHA had been attacked and that mobs had entered the buildings and destroyed the office equipment and other documents, said another international NGO staff. “Today evening, the mobs attacked all most NGOs offices and residences before the imposed of Emergency ACT 144 and Curfew.”
The Rakhine community is virulently anti-Rohingya and oppose any international humanitarian aid support for the group, which suffers from malnutrition and a range of other health problems as a result of a lack access to government services.
After MSF, which employed 500 staff, Malteser International was the biggest international health care aid group in northern Arakan State, with about 200 staff. The latest violence directed at Malteser International raises the possibility an organized campaign by Arakanese nationalists targeting all international humanitarian groups working with the Muslim population.