A foreigner not punished despite illegal marriage with under-age girl

Maungdaw: Locals told Narinjara that no punitive action has been taken by the Burma authorities against an Indian Manipur (local name – Kathay) rebel who took an under-age girl (16) as a wife from Maungdaw Township, Arakan (Rakhine) State.

The stealthy elopement of Ma Sanda Thein (father, U Hla Maung and mother, Daw Ma Myint Sein) from Mingala Nyunt village, Maungdaw Township was conducted by a rebel named Tani who stations near Ngarant Chaung village on May 7th, 2012.

Her parents reported the incident to Nasaka (Burmese border guard force) for legal action as the elopement of an under-age girl is against the law. But no action has been taken so far, said a local headman.

‘Her parents are infuriated to learn their girl was persuaded by the rebels and they, of course, filed the case with the local authority, but no action has been taken. The rebels are very rich and they bribe the authorities for whatever they want to do. Local people are afraid of them’ he said.

Because the Burmese authorities have not taken any action, the girl’s mother persuaded the girl to come visit the house on the 12th and she came with the rebel Tani.

‘So, they came to her parents’ village, Mingala Nyunt , on the 12th. After that, her mother locked the girl up in a room and said she wouldn’t let her go. They asked Tani to leave. So there arose a row between Tani and the girl’s parents. Her mother was adamant that she would not agree with the elopement as the girl was only 16 and if the use of force is applied, she would report the case to the highest authority in Burma. Finally, the rebel returned to his station,’ the village headman narrated.

On the 13th, the mother took the girl to Maungdaw in order to send the girl to Yangon. Hearing the news, the rebel Tani and his compatriots drove to Maungdaw, said the local witnesses.

Narinjara asked a policeman from Maungdaw regarding the case, the policeman, who is a Rakhine, spoke on the condition of anonymity, ‘We heard of the case in Mingala Nyunt. But these Manipur rebels are handled by the highest authority in Myanmar. So, the police are not given power to handle cases related to these rebels. Nasaka will see to this case.  Therefore, we cannot comment on the case.’

The Burmese government allowed these Manipur rebels to settle down near  north of Waylar mountain, Maungdaw township, Arakan state decades ago and the rebels have about 20 households, the locals reported.

Even though these Manipur rebels do not have businesses, they are rich and they are reported to be intermingling with Nasaka personnel through bribery.   The local headman explained that cases involving women have happened two or three times before, but no locals have expressed their opinions to exile media due to fear of punishment from both the government authorities and the Manipur rebels.