Junta troops arrest 8 Rohingyas in Buthidaung

source from Kaladan Press, Friday, 19 November 2010 20:21

Buthidaung, Arakan State: Burmese troops in Buthidaung Township arrested eight Rohingya leaders on November 14, leading relatives of one of the detained to suggest that it was in retribution for support of the opposition National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) in Burma’s recent elections.

Soldiers from the Burmese military’s Battalion 552 took the men, all reportedly from well-to-do families with relatives living abroad, into custody last week, where they remain without charges and after having offered money in exchange for their release, a family member of one of the detained said.

The arrested, who all come from the Thanganet village tract, have been identified as Jamir Hussain, 50, Ahmed Hussain, 45, Jamir Hussain, 40, Amin, 25, Basa Meah, 45, Sayedur Rahaman, 45, Moulvi Mohamed, 60, and Moulvi Abu Sofian, 50.

Two of the men, Moulvi Mohamed and Moulvi Abu Sofian, have been severely tortured, according to a family member.

A businessman from the village tract said NDPD Upper House candidate Mostafa Kamal from Thanganet, won nearly 80 percent of the votes in the election, but that the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the junta’s proxy party, ultimately won the constituency.

The heavy support in the area for the opposition NDPD has led many local residents to believe that they have become targets for harassment by the military and local officials.

Reports have emerged that several NDPD supporters have also been arrested and later released after paying bribes.

A local elder who wished not to be named identified some of the detained as Yakub, son of ex-village chairman Sayed Hussain, from Sanganet village, who paid 350,000 kyats for his release; Yousuf, 45, son of Gura Meah, from Yanma village, who was reportedly beaten and robbed of 3,000 kyats; and Zakria, 32, son of the late Amam Ullah, from Yangma village, who was arrested by Captain Kyaw Lin Aung and forced to pay 300,000 kyats for his release.

The elder said that several others have also been arrested and forced to pay thousands of kyats each for their release.

Residents of Buthidaung have identified three additional military officers as being largely responsible for the recent arrests: Captain Zaw Moe Hin, Captain Kyaw Hla Aung, and Captain Khin Soe Moe, all serving under Battalion 552 Major Kyaw Thura.

Kyaw Thura was previously posted in Maungdaw Township, where he was responsible for multiple human rights violations against the local Rohingya community, according to a Burmese military aide who asked not to be named.

Harassment of Rohingyas has also reportedly been carried out by civilian collaborators with the Burmese military, who have attacked villagers while on their way to local markets, said one Buthidaung resident.

Members of Burma’s border security force Nasaka under the command of Major Sein Win stationed in Area 9 have also been accused of harassing Rohingyas who voted for the NDPD.

An elder from a village near Area 9 said that between 30 and 50 villagers each day have been forced to work at the Nasaka camp for as many as 15 days consecutively, from 6am to 5pm, either harvesting crops or serving as porters for soldiers.

Meanwhile, Rohingyas have struggled to carry out their religious ceremonies in commemoration of the Eid-ul-Azah, or Festival of Sacrifice.

The village elder said there is a shortage of fowl and goats because military personnel have seized most of the stocks for their own use.

Residents in Sanganet village tract were allowed to slaughter cattle but only late in the day and after paying 10,000 kyat per head to local soldiers. Traditionally, sacrifices are made in the early morning, the elder said.

He added that there has been little "joy and peace" during this year’s festival among the people of northern Arakan State, as they remain distressed by continued harassment, extortion and arbitrary restrictions imposed by the military.

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