Mangdaw, Arakan State: The Muslims minority was denied the right to identify themselves as” Rohinggyas” in so-called population data collection in northern Arakan, which was conducted since March 30 to April 10 and then from August to till now, said Rahim( not real name) from the locality. The census has been conducting with the help of the UN population Fund. The government claims they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and calls them “Bengalis” though they have been living there thousand years ago.
Yesterday, on August 29, at about 8:00 pm, a group of BGP (Border Guard Police), army along with immigration officers went to Wabeg village of Pawet Chaung village tract of Maungdaw Township and tried to get so-called population data from the villagers. But, the villagers strongly refused to take part in the population data collection as the local authority tried to write” Bengali” in place of “ Rohingya” in the Form, a local leader from the village said on condition of anonymity.
As a result, some of the villagers including females and males were arrested and were brought to the police camp and put in the stocks (wooden boxes) and coerced them to take part in census. So, the villagers took part in census in fear of more torture. Then the authorities ordered to village elder to bring family lists of arrestees from homes and the authority conducted so-called population data collection by written “Bengali” instead of “Rohingyas,” the leader more added.
Some of the arrestees were identified as—Ms Amina Khatoon (32), wife Abdu Gaffar; Ms Rahima Khatun (40), wife of Hamid Hussain; Ms Hasina (27), wife of Islam; Ms Minara Begum (17) daughter of Hasu; Fazal Karim (70), son of Abdu Salam; two brothers— Ali Akbar(50) and Ali Hussain(40), son of Abdu Shukur; Nurul Amin (25), son of Jalal Ahmed; Anock (30), son of Serazul Islam and Ziabul Hussain (35), son of Gura Meah, said one of the arrestees’ close relative preferring not to be named.
In this way, the rest of the villagers were called to their (police) camp and took list of the villagers. This village has 125 family lists, the relative added.
Above and beyond, today, a group of military, police and immigration went to Balu Khali (Thay Chaung) village of Powet Chaung village tract of Maungdaw north. Seeing the group, some of the villagers ran away to the forest nearby, to avoid harassment by police and army and also they don’t willing to participate in census, a local elder from the village said.
However, the group forcibly took away the so-call population data from the villagers whom they met in the village. Villagers did not dare to face with the police and army because of frequent attacks by them. Now, the females are living in the forest and the males are seeing their homes, a trader from the village said, who denied to be named.