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News and Analysis of the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation, Arakan ( Burma)

Volume 1, Issue 1 January , 2009

January 2009
Inside this issue: 4th Rohingya National Congress of ARNO
4th Rohingya National 1 The Arakan Rohingya Nation- representative organization The Rohingya and Rakhine
Congress of ARNO alOrganization (ARNO) held of the Rohingya people are indigenous to Arakan and
its 4th Congress with party emerged in November 1998, therefore to present day
Editorial 2 Burma. Before 1785 AD, Ara-
kan existed as an independ-
Thailand Urged to Stop 3 ent nation for many centuries
Pushing Refugees Out where Buddhist Rakhine and
to Sea Muslim Rohingya coexisted
peacefully. We will work to re-
ARNO Press Release 4 establish the traditional rela-
on Boatpeople tionship of peaceful-
coexistence that existed in the
Indigenous Rohingyas 5 past between the Rohingya
of Arakan Arakanese and the Rakhine
Arakanese peoples,and to
Burma's Muslim Rohin- 6 promote a shared sense
gya Minority Of being Arakanese among all
Rohingya delegation peoples of Arakan.
7 The unity of the Rohingya
return Brussels lobby-
people worldwide is indispen-
ing visit
sable, and the unity between
Released Burmese leaders, community represen- out of the merger of then Rohingya and Rakhine is vital
7 tatives, academicians and existing all Rohingya political to shape our own destiny in
prisoners languish in
Bangladesh prison religious leaders from among organizations, to achieve the the Union of Burma to ensure
Rohingya people on Decem- Rohingya people's 'right to our future and that of our chil-
Nasaka into lucrative 7 ber 13 in the border area of self-determination'. dren.
business in Maungdaw Arakan State, Union of We condemn the ruling mili- We express our grave con-
Burma, and ARNO also called tary State Peace and Devel- cern over the current 'policies
Rights group calls on a conference to explain its opment Council (SPDC) for of exclusion' of the Burma
8 congress statement to all its violation of human rights opposition groups or democ-
Thailand to change
policy for boatpeople Rohingya community on De-
cember 16. It is the first time
women participation in Rohin-
gya conference.
ARNO, declared its 4th
RNC Declaration on the
The 4th Congress of the Ara-
kan Rohingya National Or-
ganization (ARNO) was held
on 13th December 2008 in
the border area of Arakan
State, Union of Burma, with
party leaders, community
representatives, academics
and religious leaders of the
Rohingya people. A new Cen-
tral Committee (CC) of ARNO
has been formed with Nurul
Islam, AFK Jilani and Habibur and perpetration of crimes racy movements and Ethnic
Rahman respectively as against humanity, particularly Nationalities Council(ENC)
President, Vice-President I in the ethnic areas, which are towards Rohingya. We affirm
and Vice-President II. The systematic, flagrant and that the political process in
Congress issued the following widespread in Arakan Burma shall be genuinely
declaration: against the Rohingya people. inclusive on democratic princi-
We reiterate that ARNO is the ple. We are committed to pur-
Page 2 Arakan

The international community strongly felt that the total unity They can join ARNO at any vailed the right of self-
is well aware that the 3.5 of the Rohingya people is in- time as ARNO is the mother determination of all ethnic
million peace-loving Muslims dispensable. Thus the three Organisation. peoples is guaranteed. In this
of Arakan known as Rohingya organisations -- Ara- A new Central Committee (CC) connection, we reiterate that
“Rohingya” have long been kan Rohingya Islamic Front of ARNO has been elected by self-determination of the Ro-
subjected to large-scale per- (ARIF) led by Nurul Islam, Ro- the 4th Congress of ARNO on hingya people is a sine qua
secution, genocide, ethnic- hingya Solidarity Organisation 13th December 2008. We hope non for a permanent solution
cleansing, diabolical tyranny (RSO) led by Dr. Mohammed the new (CC) of the ARNO, of their long-standing prob-
and extermination particularly Yunus and Rohingya Solidarity with the cooperation of the lem. Though a resourceful
by the successive Burmese Organisation (RSO) led by entire Rohingya people, would country Burma‟s remains
autocratic regimes, the worst Professor Mohammed Zakaria continue the struggle to among the least developed
being the present State -- having common outlook to- achieve the cherish goal of and backward countries in the
Peace and Development wards all national, political and victory. region. Educational instaura-
Council (SPDC) military re- ideological matters, have Since Burma‟s independence, tions, universities and col-
gime. They are also made united together and merged the spirit of the Union of Burma leges remain closed off and
largest target of other wide- into a single organisation or the principle of “unity in di- on, without certainty. Burma‟s
spread human right viola- namely Arakan Rohingya Na- versity” has been undermined education system is failing
tions, including rape, sum- tional Organisation (ARNO) on resulting in fratricidal civil war both students and teachers
mery execution, torture, 11th December, 1998 to serve of long 60 years continuing till and the country has futile
slave labour, restriction on the cause of their people. today. We believe that Burma‟s chances of producing skilled
movement and marriage, Alas! Some of the members of diverse ethnic issues and prob- work force, The spread of
forcible dispossession and the Standing Committee of the lems can only be solved AIDS and communicable dis-
seizure of their land, denial ARNO deserted and formed through a meaningful dialogue ease are out of control and
of their citizenship, compel- separately by using their for- among the military junta, the alarmingly affecting the Bur-
ling them to become state- mer name, which encourage democratic opposition forces mese people. Without the
less or refugees. As a result others to form their own parties led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi timely removal of the auto-
about 1.5 million of Rohin- to serve their own interest and representatives of the dif- cratic military regime, the fu-
gyas have been expelled or rather than to serve the suffer- ferent ethnic groups, including ture of Burmese people will be
have to leave their ancestral ing Rohingya community. that of the Rohingya people. doomed forever. In this con-
homeland for their lives. When the well-wishers tried to Over and above, peace can nection, we reiterate to strug-
In the face of the rapidly de- unite them they dodged for last only be established in Burma gle together with the Burmese
teriorating situation of the whole year. By forming one when the country is trans- opposition and democratic
Rohingya threatening their party they afraid their all privi- formed into a welfare state, forces to put this dastardly
very existence and daunting leges would be deprived. based on federalism where military rule to an end once
challenges thrown upon Strangely they are also equality, justice, humanity, and for all.
them by the military junta, all preaching for unity. But the fundamental human rights and
Rohingya organisations have door is always open for them. freedom will perpetually pre-

From front page 4th Rohingya National Congress of ARNO

pursuing a peaceful politi- guests or illegal workers – We support the rights of Ro- ment and preserve a
cal settlement of our prob- their legal status, human hingya women and girls to green haven for our chil-
lem. security, living conditions, education, health and eco- dren and the world.
We are not part of any We welcome support from
struggle outside Burma any group worldwide as
and are committed as a long as they respect our
community within Arakan goal, specially our vision
to rebuild the State. Our of tolerance and respect
vision for the future is a for all religious and human
diverse, tolerant, multi- rights for all in Arakan.
ethnic, multi-religious Ara-
kan society. We appeal to international
We are determined to pre- community, UNO, OIC,
serve, develop and trans- ASEAN and neighbouring
mit to future Rohingya gen- countries, and NGOs for a
erations their ancestral permanent solution of the
history, their ethnic identity. Rohingya problem.
We are determined to im-
prove the condition of the Rohingya National Con-
Rohingya people living gress
abroad, specially those access to health and edu- nomic empowerment. For the Arakan, Burma.
living in refugee camps cational facilities, jobs and future generations' heritage Dated:13thDecember
and those tolerated as training opportunities. we pledge to protect environ- 2008

Volume 1, Issue 1 January 2009

Arakan Page 3

Thailand Urged to Stop Pushing Refugees Out to Sea

Rrefugee rights organization north of the island of Koh One survivor from Buthidaung LAWI WENGA
has called on the Thai gov- Surin, off the coast of Thai- Township, Arakan State, told
ernment to stop stranding land. Lewa that he had left his vil- month prison sentences after
Rohingya boat people from After 13 days at sea, the In- lage with eight people. “Four of they were arrested while trav-
my friends are now dead. Our eling to Rangoon in search of
dream was to go to Malaysia,” work.
he said. Many seek to escape the eco-
A rising tide of Rohingya refu- nomic hardship of their re-
gees has been fleeing Burma stricted lives and turn to bro-
towards countries like Indone- kers to help them find work
sia, Malaysia and India‟s Anda- outside Arakan State. Hun-
man and Nicobar Islands. dreds put to sea in leaky ves-
Their numbers usually in- sels and head for Malaysia,
crease after November, when but many end up on Thailand
the seas are at their calmest. beaches or drown in the
Last week, more than a hun- stormy waters of the Andaman
dred people who travelled by Sea.
boat were arrested by Indone- According to official Thai fig-
sian authorities in Aceh. ures, the number of Rohin-

western Burma‟s Arakan dian Coast Guard rescued

State at sea after apprehend- 107 survivors of the ordeal
ing them for illegally entering near the Andaman Islands.
Thailand.In a press release Thai officials disputed the
issued on Monday, Washing- claim. “Thai immigration of-
ton, DC-based Refugees fice will never send illegal
International said the Thai immigrants back to their
government “should instruct countries by putting them
its Army to desist from its back in the boat then let them
new and troubling policy of go,” said Police Lieutenant
pushing refugees and mi- General Chatchawal Suk-
grants intercepted on boats somjit, commander of the
back out to sea.” Thailand Immigration Office.
According to the group, press Chris Lewa, an expert on
reports indicated that there Rohingya issues who inter-
were at least four confirmed viewed some of the survivors, The Rohingya are a stateless
deaths and as many as 300 said that they told her they Muslim minority who face gyas arrested for illegally en-
people missing after a boat were forced to get onto the harsh treatment by the Bur- tering Thailand has increased
that had been towed out to boat at gunpoint and were mese authorities. They are steadily in recent years, from
sea by the Thai authorities given just four bags of rice prohibited from travelling out- 1,225 in 2005-6 to 4,886 in
capsized. and two tanks of water. side Arakan State and are fur- 2007-8. There were 659 Ro-
One report said that on De- “It‟s an outrageous situation. ther marginalized by other dis- hingyas seized in eight sepa-
cember 18, the Thai Navy set Thailand must stop putting criminatory regime laws. rate incidents from November
412 people adrift on a single them back in the middle of Last September, more than 26 to December 25 last year.
boat in international waters the sea,” she added. 100 Rohingyas were given six- Source: Irrawaddy, Jan

Hasina wants release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Sheikh Hasina, the leader of told a questioner at her first on detained Myanmar leader to none” is our cardinal for-
Awami League party which press conference after her Suu Kyi, Sheikh Hasina said, eign policy she said adding
won landslide in this week‟s alliance‟s grand victory at “We want immediate release that she wants a peaceful
elections in Bangladesh,said Bangladesh-China Friendship of Suu Kyi”.“Burma is a close and democratic South Asian
opposition leader Aung San International Conference Cen- neighbuoring country of Bang- region
Suu Kyi of the neighboring ter that her party is always in ladesh and as such we want
Myanmar, who has been un- favour of democracy. good neighborly relations with Jan 1st, 2009. Daily Star,
der house arrest since May When a foreign journalist Yangon”, Sheikh Hasina said. Bangladesh.
2003, should be released. She asked her to explain her stand “Friendship with all and malice

Buthidaung Jail
The inmates of the Buthidaung jail (In Arakan State) are 1114. About one hundred are Rakhaines and non-Rohingyas.One thou-
sand are Rohingyas sentenced for marriage without permission.Some are sentenced for immrigation cases, a few are sentenced
for drug and logs smuggling. There are 58 Rohingya women almost all are sentenced for marriage. Reported by an inmate re-
leased recently that jail is build for only 200 inmates.
Arakan Monthly group.

Volume 1, Issue 1 January 2009

Page 4 Arakan


Press Release
16th January 2009
The Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) supports the Press Release dated January 15, 2009 of the Refugees
International urging the Thai officials to treat the Rohingya and other boatpeople humanely and “to ensure that refugees
seeking asylum are properly screened and are not forced back to their country of origin if it will put them at risk.”
The Rohingya are the worst victims of human rights violations in Burma. They are rendered stateless and have no rights
within Burma while living in abject poverty. Crimes against humanity have been perpetrated against them, including de-
nial of citizenship rights, severe restriction on freedom of movement, marriage and religion, forced labour, rape, land
confiscation, arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and extortion on daily basis. This impossible situation has
constrained them to leave their hearths and homes in search of safe shelter and better life.
We express our serious concern over the harsh treatment of the boatpeople by the Thai security forces. Towing and
forcing these helpless, hapless and highly vulnerable people back to the sea tying their hands without any foods in en-
gineless boats to expose them to the risk of capsizing and sinking is a merciless action made in utter disregard of inter-
national law and other international standards and practices. Report says one of such boats has capsized resulting in
the death and missing of more than 300 people. It is not a solution at all.
Therefore, we urge upon the Government of Thailand and all those concerned to treat these boatpeople humanly, and
not send the Rohingya asylum seekers back to Burma, where their lives will be in danger. Instead they may be granted
adequate protection and assistance on humanitarian ground. We also urge upon the Thai Government with the interna-
tional community to try for a permanent solution of the longstanding Rohingya problem.

For further information contact:

Phone: +44 07947854652,

From page 6 Burma's Muslim Rohingya Minority

Forced labour is widespread. “The regime is carrying out an attack on our language, identity and culture,” said one Rakhine. The
National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) has an alliance with the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO). One NUPA
leader told me: “When a people have been living this long through history, why should they be deprived of their citizenship
“The regime is trying to take away our identity,” a Rohingya leader told me. “We will not be there in the very near future. The disin-
tegration of our society will take place. Our prime concern is that we must not be eliminated.” With that context, it is perhaps not
surprising that some Rohingyas have been radicalised, feeling they have few allies in the world. Militant Islamist groups have
preyed on their vulnerability. There are even suggestions that some Rohingyas have been linked to al-Qaeda. All the more rea-
son, it seems, why it is essential to speak up for them, and encourage Burma‟s democracy movement to be more inclusive. Not
only is there a strong moral case to speak out against their persecution, but a powerful strategic incentive to do so as well. As one
moderate Buddhist Rakhine told me: “We have to reach out to moderate Rohingyas, and work with them, because if we don‟t,
they will have nowhere else to go but radical Islamism.” Burma is troubled enough as it is, without that prospect to add to its
Benedict Rogers is the author of A Land Without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma's Karen People (Monarch, 2004),
and has visited Burma and its borderlands more than 20 times. He also serves as Deputy Chairman of the UK Conserva-
tive Party's Human Rights Commission.
October 6th 2008

Widowers in northern Arakan to wait for three years for remarriage

In Northern Arakan State, including the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, widowers have to wait for a mini-
mum of three years to re-marry, a widower from Buthidaung said on condition of anonymity.
A widower named Hussain (not his real name), who hails from Buthidaung Township told Kaladan Press Network that his wife
had died of cancer three months ago. She had left three children and they did not have a grandmother also, who could look after
them. Hussain is a farmer, who spends most of his time cultivating land and is therefore unable to look after his children. He goes
to work after handing over the children to a neighbor, for the day.
After collecting all the necessary documents, the widower submitted an application to the Nasaka, Burma's border security force,
to seek permission for remarriage. However, the concerned Nasaka officer asked him to wait for at least three years to seek per-
mission. After speaking to the Nasaka officer, the widower said he had been facing difficulties with his children and asked them to
grant permission. The Nasaka, however, did not relent.
In order to get permission for remarriage, there are more formalities. Initially, the applicant had to get forms from the concerned
office where he had to pay kyat 5,000. After collecting the forms, these would be filled up by the clerk of the Village Peace and
Development Council (VPDC), where the applicant had to pay kyat 3,000. Then the application would be sent to the VPDC office
for a recommendation letter from the VPDC Chairman, where again the applicant had to pay kyat 5,000, a bridegroom's father,
who declined to be named, said.
Afterwards, the application would be sent to the Sarapa (Military Intelligence) of Nasaka for a recommendation letter, where the
See Next page

Volume 1, Issue 1 January 2009

Arakan Page 5

Indigenous Rohingyas of Arakan

Till 957 CE Arakan had been kan were Indian and similar dynasty was established after
AFK Jilani
ruled by Hindu dynasties. Both to Bangalees.Rohingya is the driving out Burmese invaders Muslim name(Salim Shah)
the people and governments only race of Arakan similar in 1430. It was the most glori- only. Not only one king but
were Indian similar to Ban- to Bangalees.It is not logical ous era in the history of Ara- many all reigning for more
galees, Arakan, in fact, is a to deny the fact that Rohin- kan. than two hundred years used
continuation of the Chittagong gya has a `historic right; the For one hundred years (1430- the Muslim names and in-
plain. The “true Chronicle” re- right of the first occupation of 1530) Arakan was under the scribed the same in the coins.
cords that in the 957CE, a Mon- Arakan. political influence of Bengal as Burmese junta,s policy of eth-
golian invasion swept over Ara- The Wassali state was eat- a vassal state. For nearly one nic cleansing and genocide
kan. According to Wilhelm ablished by Mahawira Min of century (1582-1666) the Chit- against the Rohingyas of Ara-
Klein, all of a sudden, Arakan the west of Naf River in 600- tagong division was under kan forcing nearly half of their
changed.The invading tribes 612 CE at Pruma of present Arakanese rule. The court total population to leave their
made the country face to east, Maungdaw township. Purma language of Arakan had been motherland. The junta,s gross
away from India. The Tibeto- was a sea port in accordance Persian till 1845, 22 years violation of human rights ren-
Burman who had entered the to the records of the tourists further beyond British occupa- dered the Rohingyas to the
country stayed in Arakan-with in 2nd century CE. From tion. The coins found in Ara- status of modern-day slaves.
the racial mixture which charac- Purma, the Wassali state kan belong to those of Mrauk- The ruling junta is engaged in
terizes today Rakhings. was established by conquer- U are Muslims. The Mrauku, erasing and obliterating the
Those who are now known as ing small states adjacent to rulers inscribed their coins and Muslims entity in Arakan by
Rohingyas are the local indige- it. King Mahawira and his state emblems with `Kalema; demolishing ancient Islamic
nous people living in Arakan subjects were Indians similar Muslim profession of faith, and monuments, mosques, grave-
since the dawn of the history to today‟s Rohingyas. Muslim name of the kings in yards and building several
that later embraced cultural and In the `Kyaukza‟ stone in- Arabic script. In the court of pagodas and monasteries in
religious reformation to upgrade scription serial No.963/20-23- the Araknese kings Muslim Muslim areas, establishing
their ancient tradition. Islam 804 Burmese era 1442 C.E. ministers and Qadis (Judges) hostile settlers in the name of
was introduced in Arakan by there is indication of Muslim were appointed. `Model Villages‟ changing
Arabs traders and Sufi mystics King,s reign of Arakan in There is a coin of Razagri/ names bearingMuslim signifi-
within 50 years of the advent of 14th century who were Salim Shah I (1593-1612) in cance, distorting the history of
Islam in 610 CE. friends of Burmese kings and the collection of Chittagong Arakan and denying the in-
Dr.Pamela Gutman wrote used to visit them. The Kings University museum. Dr.A. digenous status of Rohingya.
that,the Rakhing,appears to of Arakan had Muslim title. If Karim remarks that the coin of Professor Abdul Karim, former
have been an advance-guard of they were not Muslim kings Salim Shah is very interesting vice-chancellor of the Chit-
Burmans who began to cross mentioned in the inscription, and it throws clight on Arakan tagong University wrote “even
the Rakhing Yoma in the ninth the Muslim king of Arakan relations with Bengal. He also their basic human rights,i.e
century.She also wrote that the might be Rohingya Muslim wrote that `Nowadays many right to live with dignity and
Rakhing were the last signifi- kings,from Mayu River valley, scholars have deciphered the honour have been taken
cant group of people to come the eastern of the Naf River. coins, and have read the Mus- away.The Rohingya faced
into Arakan. A Phayre, GE Har- Rohingyas claim their exis- lim names of the kings prop- inhuman torture so much so
vey, D.G.E.Hall, M.Collis and tence there of over thou- erly. There is no doubt that that they had to leave their
other historians who wrote Bur- sands years. If not thou- the names are clear Arabic hearth and home leaving all
mese history, wrote that the sands years, their existence words, their properties. But how could
people of Wassali were Indians. might be from the time of e.g.Husain,Ilyas,Kalima, Moha such a huge number of people
M.Collis wrote that `….it 1202 C.E. when the Muslims med, Nuri, Salim, Sikandar, suddenly enter into Arakan,so
(Arakan) was an Indian land, conquered Bengal, that is etc.Not only that, European that the government of Burma
dynasty following dynasty. Then 800 years. writers like Fray Setastein could claim that they are not
in AD957, the whole area was In 1406 Arakan was occu- Manrique have also written national of Burma.
overrun by a Mongolian incur- pied by Burma.The king of the Muslim names of Ara- The principle case of the con-
sion from the north. The Mon- Arakan, Narameikhla fled to kanese kings. Manrique was tinuing of Rohingya refugee
golian mixed with the Indian Muslim Bengal. He was re- himself in the Arakanese court crisis is the military govern-
and erected the Arakanese stored to the throne of Ara- for a pretty long time, he was ment of Burma,s discrimina-
race. According to San Shwe kan in 1430 by Bengal Sultan present in the capital on the tory attitude towards this par-
Bu, a Rakhing historian, Ara- who sent a large Muslim occasion of the coronation of ticular ethnic and religious
kanese history proper than army to drive out the Bur- the king Thiri Thudamma minority. The ruling junta has
(after 957 CE) began and it mese invaders. The Muslim (Salim Shah II). So Marrique,s turned Burma into one of the
lasted 8 centuries until1784 CE. army of Wali Khan and Sandi evidence cannot be ques- worse places for the Muslims
According to D.G.E. Hall till Khan all stayed and settled tioned. What is more impor- to live in.
10th century the people of Ara- down in Arakan. The Mrauku tant is that Marrique used the

From page 4
candidate would have to pay kyat 15,000. Followed by this, the application including two photographs would be sent to the Doctor
of Nasaka for medical checking and again for a recommendation where the candidate had to pay kyat 10,000. After that the ap-
plication with all other documents would be sent to the Immigration of Nasaka, where two witnesses including the father and
mother are called. They are asked whether the bride and the bridegroom agree to be with each other.
Subsequently, the application is sent to the local Nasaka headquarters for checking, where the candidate has to pay kyat
15,000. The new bridegroom has to wait for at least three months to get permission. If the candidate is a widower, the time span
of three years is compulsory.If the new bridegroom pays a bribe of kyat 200,000 to 300,000 to the concerned authority, he is likely
to get permission within 15 days, a close aide of Nasaka said.
Later all the documents have to be sent to the local Nasaka camp, where the candidate again has to pay kyat 5,000.
Source: Kaladan News, Jan 1, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 1 January 2009

Page 6 Arakan
Burma's Muslim Rohingya Minority Dwell at the "Brink of Extermination"
It is not often you meet some- as teachers, nurses, civil been jailed for illegally reno- Benedict Rogers
one who tells you that he is from servants or in any public ser- vating mosques.
“a people at the brink of exter- vice, and in Rohingya areas A senior UN official, who has forcibly repatriated at least
mination.” But the testimonies teachers, mostly from the served in Darfur, Somalia and 230,000 Rohingyas back to
from refugees in a remote cor- Buddhist Rakhine ethnic other humanitarian crisis Burma, but many have re-
ner of southern Bangladesh, on group, sometimes fail to turn situations and, in the words of turned, unable to survive in
the border with Burma, justify up for an entire year, disrupt- a foreign diplomat, “knows their homeland. One refugee
that assessment. For the Rohin- ing educational opportunities misery when he sees it”, re- said: “As long as human rights
gya people, a Muslim minority in for the Rohingyas. Rape and cently described the situation abuses continue in Burma, we
northern Arakan State, western forced labour are wide- in northern Arakan State, cannot go back. We are
Burma, are a stateless people spread, and Rohingyas are western Burma, as “as bad as caught between a crocodile
whose very identity is denied. singled out by the authorities anything he has seen in terms and a snake. Where can we
All the people of Burma are for extortion. Soldiers de- the denial of basic human go?” Another expressed their
suffering at the hands of one of mand money from them, and freedoms”. dilemma, and statelessness,
the world‟s most brutal, and when they cannot pay they For these reasons, it is esti- equally starkly: “The Bangla-
illegitimate, military regimes. are arrested and tortured. mated that at least 200,000 desh authorities say we are
From time to time Burma‟s crisis from Burma. The Burmese
hits the headlines, as it did with regime says we are Bengali.
protests led by Buddhist monks Where should we go?”
last September, and Cyclone As part of its campaign
Nargis in May this year. In be- against the Rohingyas, the
tween such events, however, junta regularly stirs up anti-
Burma fades from the world‟s Muslim sentiment among the
attention. Buddhist Rakhine and Bur-
If Burma as a whole is under- mans, with some success.
reported, the people on its west- “The regime uses the Rakhine
ern borders are almost unknown against us as part of a divide-
to the world. Journalists, activ- and-rule policy,” said one Ro-
ists and aid agencies who visit hingya. And so in addition to
the region tend to head for the facing persecution from the
Thailand-Burma border, where regime, the Rohingyas face
access to refugees, displaced discrimination from Burma‟s
people and democracy groups democracy movement too.
is greatest. Many Rakhine and Burmans
Few visit Burma‟s borders with On a visit to the Bangladesh- Rohingyas have fled to Bang- in the democracy movement
India, where a famine is unfold- Burma border, I heard nu- ladesh. In 1978 and 1991, refuse to recognise the Rohin-
ing, or with China, where merous accounts of these there were significant influxes gyas as an ethnic group, and
women are trafficked into prosti- violations from Rohingya of refugees fleeing across the they have been denied mem-
tution, and fewer still make it to refugees. And they were border, and even today Rohin- bership of the opposition Eth-
the Bangladesh border where a confirmed by three defectors gyas trickle out one by one, in nic Nationalities Council.
slow, forgotten genocide is tak- who had escaped from the hope of finding security in There is a dispute even over
ing place. Burma‟s military. The defec- Bangladesh. However, even the term „Rohingya‟, and
The Rohingya people are ethni- tors, who had served in the in Bangladesh, they are vul- many Rakhine prefer to call
cally and culturally closely re- Burma Army‟s border secu- nerable. Only 27,000 are rec- them “Arakanese Muslims”,
lated to the Bengali people in rity force known as the „Na ognised by the Office of the “Burmese Muslims” or
the area surrounding Chit- Sa Ka‟, said that the Rohin- United Nations High Commis- “Bengalis of Burma”.
tagong, but have lived in Burma gya were specifically tar- sioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Some Rakhine, however,
for generations. While their pre- geted for extortion. One said: and live in two official camps. have recognised the need to
cise history may be debated, “Throughout my life in the Na Thousands more are unrecog- work with the Rohingyas
there is no doubt that they are Sa Ka, I was used to this nised, and live either in Bang- against their common enemy,
not newcomers to the country. system of arresting Muslims, ladeshi towns and villages or the regime. After all, the Ra-
Yet unlike all the other ethnic asking for money, torturing in temporary „makeshift‟ khine are also victims of the
groups in Burma, which al- them, every day. We only camps where conditions are junta. In schools, teachers use
though severely persecuted by arrested Muslims, not Rakhi- dire. In the makeshift camps Burmese and the Rakhine
the regime are at least recog- nes.” they receive no access to language is banned. Forced
nised as citizens, the Rohingyas The Rohingyas face religious health care or education, and labour is widespread. “The
are regarded as “temporary persecution as well. It is al- no rations. Even in the official regime is carrying out an at-
residents” and denied full citi- most impossible to obtain camps, there is no formal edu- tack on our language, identity
zenship status. They are re- permission to renovate, re- cation beyond the age of 12. and culture,” said one Ra-
quired to obtain permission be- pair, rebuild or extend One 18 year-old is teaching in khine. The National United
fore marrying, and a permit can mosques or other religious one of the schools, but has no Party of Arakan (NUPA) has
take several years to secure. buildings. In the past three opportunity for further study an alliance with the Arakan
Movement is severely restricted years, 12 mosques in north- himself. “I am compelled to Rohingya National Organisa-
– Rohingyas must obtain per- ern Arakan have been de- teach, but I would prefer to tion (ARNO). One NUPA
mission to travel even from one molished, and a large num- learn first,” he told me. “If I leader told me: “When a peo-
village to another, impeding ber were closed in 2006. stay like this, with no further ple have been living this long
access to medical care and Since 1962, I was told, not a education, my future life will
education. As „non-citizens‟, single new mosque has been be ruined.”
Rohingyas cannot be employed built. Religious leaders have A few years ago, the UNHCR See Page 4
Volume 1, Issue 1 January 2009
Arakan Page 7


A delegation of four Rohingya European Commission and Maung Tun Khin said: "We had action. The EU has a vital role
activists from Burma have re- Council, as well as staff in the extremely valuable discussions to play and we were privileged
turned from a two-day advocacy European Parliament, the with EU officials and European to have this opportunity to dis-
and awareness-raising visit to delegation called on the Euro- Parliament staff, in which we cuss the crisis in Burma with
Brussels, in which they high- pean Union (EU) to support were able to raise awareness EU officials."
lighted the political and humani- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki about the suffering of all the CSW's Advocacy Officer Bene-
tarian crisis in Burma as a -moon's proposed visit to people of Burma, and particu- dict Rogers said: "We were
whole, and the plight of the Ro- Burma next month, and to larly to spotlight the plight of delighted to be able to facilitate
hingya people of Arakan State, urge the UN to introduce spe- the Rohingyas who receive so this opportunity for the Rohin-
western Burma in particular.The cific benchmarks for progress little international attention. gya people. We had valuable
delegation from the Burmese in Burma, accompanied by Among the issues we raised, discussions and opportunities
Rohingya Organisation UK deadlines. The first such we urged the EU to encourage to provide information about
(BROUK) was facilitated and benchmark, the delegation on the Association of South- the brutal suppression of the
hosted by Christian Solidarity said, should be the release all East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Rohingyas, among the most
Worldwide (CSW) and included political prisoners prior to Ban and Islamic nations to put persecuted groups in Burma, to
BROUK's President, Maung Tun Ki-moon's visit. The delega- pressure on the regime in people who were not previ-
Khin,(aka) Zeyarbul Gaffar and tion also urged the EU to en- Burma. We were also able to ously aware. We also high-
three other members. CSW's courage Ban Ki-moon to raise discuss the humanitarian situa- lighted the wider suffering of all
Advocacy Officer for South Asia, the plight of the Rohingya tion in Arakan State and the the people of Burma."
Benedict Rogers, who visited during his visit, and to put suffering of refugees in Burma.
the Rohingyas on the Bangla- pressure on Burma's military The message we delivered Source: CSW & BROUK, No-
desh-Burma border in August, regime to lift restrictions on was that all the people of vember 5, 2008
accompanied the delegation. marriage, movement and Burma are suffering, and it is
In meetings with officials in the education for the Rohingyas. time for increased international

Released Burmese prisoners languish in Bangladesh prison

Burmese prisoners accounting to Burma. According to prison sources, In Cox's Bazaar prison, there
for 105 people, though re- However, the released Bur- the Bangladesh government is are nearly 400 Burmese citi-
leased (popularly known as mese prisoners could not be not willing to keep the released zens and most of them are
RP) have been languishing in sent to Burma from Bangla- Burmese prisoners in Bangla- detained by Bangladesh au-
Bangladesh prison since 2006 desh as the Burmese authori- deshi prison anymore as the thorities for illegally entering
because the Burmese military ties refused to accept them. authorities have to spend addi- Bangladesh territory.
government refuses to recog- An immigration official Abu tional funds for them. It is learnt that there are 1500
nize them as Burmese citizens. Kalan from Cox's Bazaar said At the same time, accommoda- Burmese nationals in Bangla-
According to a prison report, that Burmese authorities told tion for Burmese prisoners is desh prison and the numbers
105 released Burmese prison- them whenever they request also another problem for Bang- have increased in recent
ers were brought to Cox's Ba- their transfer to Burma that ladesh because there are many years.
zaar prison located near they could not check whether prisoners staying in prison
Burma's western border, from the prisoners in Bangla- though there is not enough Source: Narinjara News,
several prisons around Bangla- desh are Burmese nationals or adequate accommodation in Jan 1, 2009
desh in 2006 to be handed over not. the prison.

Nasaka into lucrative business in Maungdaw

The Commander of Nasaka But, villagers had to pay the one Taung of paddy is being was Kyat 400, 15 days ago. A
Burma's border security force commander at least 150 sold at Kyat 2,300. As a result, 50 kg rice bag is being sold at
of area No.5 in Maungdaw Taungs (one Taung =14 kg) of the Commander makes a Kyat 18,000 in Maungdaw
Township provided loans to paddy after harvesting in sum- profit of kyat 1, 600 on one while it was only Kyat 16,000,
villagers of his area on January mer. Taung. The Commander will two weeks ago.
7, for cultivation of summer Villagers do not willing to take net Kyat 140,000 from 150 A village elder said, "The con-
paddy. the money for paddy as the Taungs of paddy. cerned authority always thinks
The commander disbursed price is very low compare to The Commander also gave that how to get money from
Kyat 100,000 to the villagers those of open market price, but loans to other villages which villages which are under his
through the village Peace and the concerned authority forces are under Nasaka area No. 5. control."
Development Council (VPDC) to take the money. At present, in Maungdaw
Chairman of Loune Don village One Taung of paddy costs Kyat north, a kilogram of rice is Source: Kaladan News, Jan
tract in Maungdaw Township. 700. But, in the open market, being sold at Kyat 450 while it 15, 2009.

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We wish happy New Year to our readers. We are overjoyed to publish again the “ARAKAN”. Due to unavoid-
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Volume 1, Issue 1 January 2009

Rights group calls on Thailand to change policy for boatpeople
A rights group, Refugees Inter- should, at a minimum, revert to Burma as citizens, neighboring pm, after Burmese naval forces
national (RI) from Washington, the practice of deporting un- countries like Thailand must from Rangoon Division pushed
D.C called on the Government documented migrants. Thai protect and assist this vulner- them back. The Burmese au-
of Thailand to change their pol- officials should also ensure able population," he added. thorities provided the travelers
icy towards boat people, who that refugees seeking asylum "It was a sick and bizarre situa- with some ration and fuel, ac-
have been recently entering are properly screened and are tion, and there appeared to be cording to a person who re-
children in the groups as well. turned from the Rangoon
They were forcibly exposed to coast.
the hot sun although trees Towards the end of last year,
provided shade a few meters the British "The Guardian"
away. Some of the tourists newspaper mentioned, "More
went over to look at what was than 300 people believed to be
going on," said Mrs. Skibelig, illegal migrants and mostly
who had her Christmas holiday Bangladeshis were feared to
in Similan Islands, Thailand, have drowned. The accident
together with 20 other family took place off the Andaman
members, is one of the eyewit- and Nicobar Islands in the Bay
nesses about the policy of of Bengal on December 28, as
Thailand regarding boatpeople. the victims jumped into the sea
"When we first arrived on the and tried to swim ashore."
beach we thought the Thai "The men were mostly Bangla-
military was going through a deshis and some Burmese
military drill. Later we under- nationals, aged between 18
their territory, through a press not forced back to their country stood that something very, and 60, who drifted through the
release yesterday. of origin if it will put them at very serious was going on," Bay of Bengal, and we are
The boat people are primarily risk," the statement more
stateless Burmese Rohingya added.
escaping severe oppression "The Thai government is taking
and harsh poverty at home, but highly vulnerable people and
also include some Bangladeshi risking their lives for political
migrants. Both group board gain. It should be engaging the
boats of varying seaworthiness Burmese government on im-
with the aim of finding security proving conditions at home for
and economic opportunity in the Rohingya if it wants to
Thailand and Malaysia, the stem the flow. The Rohingya
statement said. will continue to make the jour-
"The Government of Thailand ney because they have no
should instruct its Army to desist hope for a better life in
from its new and troubling policy Burma. Pushing them back
of pushing refugees and mi- out to sea is not an effective
grants intercepted on boats deterrent – it just jeopardizes
back out to sea which endan- lives," said Advocate Sean
gers their lives, and exposes Garcia.
them to the risk of capsizing or "The Rohingya are stateless Mrs Skibelid explained to the trying to rescue the boatpeople
sinking," the statement said. and have no rights inside Norwegian newspaper with navy ship and helicopter,"
The Thai government is detain- Burma. The Burmese govern- said authorities in Port Blair.
ing them on a remote island and ment targets them for forced The refugee (boatpeople) had "To arrest people when they
then forcing them back out to labour and extortion, and re- been arrested and forcibly kept enter Thai waters then release
on the beach since 10 a.m. them in international waters,
and were still lying there when without motors or sails, would
the Norwegian travelers left in clearly be a violation of interna-
the afternoon, at around 4 pm. tional human rights,'' said Chris
They also witnessed the Lewa, a Bangkok-based social
guards hitting and kicking the worker who is seeking better
refugees, she added. treatment for the Rohingya
Nearly 200 people (174 Rohin- boat people.
gyas and 19 Bangladeshi) Refugees International is a
reached Indonesia's Sumatra Washington, DC-based organi-
island on a wooden boat on zation that advocates to end
January 7, and after drifting for refugee crises. In November
a few days were found by local 2008, Refugees International
fishermen and transferred to staff conducted a mission to
the coastguard where medical Bangladesh and Malaysia to
treatment and food were pro- assess the humanitarian condi-
sea, statement added. stricts their movement. The vided by the Indonesia govern- tions for Burmese Rohingya
"The actions of the Thai govern- Burmese government's policy ment, according to local Navy refugees, including boat mi-
ment contravene accepted stan- of actively displacing the Ro- Commander Yanuar Handwi- grants. There are approxi-
dards of international law that hingya from their homeland yono. mately 1 million Rohingya living
discourage putting civilians at means that any refugee who is On January 4, 2009, a motor- outside Burma.
greater risk after being in the forced back is subjected to boat carrying about 97 people Source: Kaladan News, Jan 13,
custody of government offi- arrest and abuse. Until the returned to Shapuri Dip of 09
cials. The Thai authorities Rohingya are recognized by Bangladesh, at about 12:30

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