Rohingya face difficulties with new Maungdaw resettlement program

Kaladan Press, 02 March 2011 12:41

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Rohingya community in Maungdaw is facing difficulties from the Burmese authorities’ new resettlement program in Maungdaw, said an elder from Maungdaw.

Kyaw Aye, a Rakhine community member who hails from block no. 3 of Maungdaw, is a resettlement program agent. He oversees the building of new homes and the repair of old homes in model villages (locally called ‘Natala Villages’). The agent is now forcing the Rohingya community to build houses for newcomers to Maungdaw, the elder said.

“The agent gave orders to the village authorities concerning where model villages had to be built. A new model village in Shweza Village for 200 families who will come this month is being set up,” said a village authority from Maungdaw.

“The model villagers come with the hope of getting free food and assets like land, tractors, rickshaws, and three-wheels taxies, but later the model villagers secretly leave the model villages after selling their properties.”

Now, the agent is calling laborers to build new houses and repair the old ones which have been left by model villagers. The Rohingya laborers do not receive any wages for this work, even though the agent receives funds for the program from concerned departments, said an NGO worker from Maungdaw.

“The agent is using the name of the Maungdaw Township Authorities to get the building materials from the Maungdaw market without paying any money.

“The agent takes a lot of materials from the Rohingya community’s building materials shops. However, he never takes any materials from shops with Rakhine owners.”

“The Rohingya community has to pay for, or give freely, land, labor, food, and materials for the new model villages. Even so, the new model villagers harass the Rohingya villagers in many ways.”

“The SPDC’s policy of establishing “model villages” in northern Arakan State to be populated with Burmans from Burma Proper and Rakhine from Bangladesh and inside Arakan State has resulted in the confiscation of lands from the Rohingya community. The building of model villages reportedly intensified after the formation of the Burma Border Security Force, or Nasaka, in 1992.”

“At present, over 100 model villages have been built in northern Arakan State. These model villages were built with the forced labor of Rohingya people. Besides, the villagers have to provide money, rations, generators, cattle, and materials for house buildings for the newcomers. Moreover, the Nasaka has seized grazing pastures belonging to the Rohingya community to distribute to model villagers,” said a politician from Maungdaw.

“These atrocious measures have forced the Rohingya to become landless Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and in some cases to face starvation — forcing them out to cross the border into nearby Bangladesh for life and shelter.”

“The Burmese authorities have plans to turn northern Arakan State into a Buddhist-majority area. They are causing a serious demographic imbalance by bringing in new settlers.”

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