Local Ethnic Victims Refuse Aid from Foreign NGOs

Maung Aye

Maungdaw: Local ethnic Arakanese victims of the recent violent unrest who are currently taking shelter in seven emergency camps in Maungdaw Township in Arakan State have reportedly refused to accept relief aid provided by foreign NGOs.

Local Ethnic Victims Refuse Aid from Foreign NGOs

The abbot of Aloedawpyiy Monastery, where many of the displaced are sheltering, said the refugees have refused to accept aid from the NGOs because they believe there is dishonesty behind the aid.

“We respect their title for their aid that reads ‘the humanitarian aid that disregards race and religion for all’. But many ethnic refugees here believe that there is some dishonesty behind that aid of the foreign NGOs because there was nothing to show that those NGOs had ever provided assistance to the ethnic people here in Maungdaw. They have been providing assistance only to the Muslim people here,” said the abbot.

The refugees who are sheltering in the emergency camps in urban Maungdaw are said to have boycotted the relief aid that three international NGOs had come to provide them on 3 June.

“They [the NGOs] provide rice, free health care and education, but their assistance is not for our ethnic people and they do not do anything for us. They have built roads, ponds, and wells for the Muslim villages, but they have not done anything for our ethnic villages here. In this situation our ethnic people are helpless and have to depend on themselves for living on their poor and difficult lives, and they were brutally attacked by the Muslims relying on the foreign NGOs. If those attacks would be seen normally they seem just like riots between Arakanese and Muslims. But they were not the riots, they were the attacks carried out by the Muslims to encroach on the national sovereignty,” said the abbot.

“So, we have dismissed the officials of those NGOs who have come to provide relief aid to our victims, and told them we do not need their assistance because we are not the people who are relying on others,” added the abbot.

Some international NGOs, including the Malteser, are said to have visited the other camps in Maungdaw on 4 July to offer their aid, but the victims in the camps reportedly also turned down their offer.

“Some doctors and officials of the foreign NGOs visited the camps here to provide their aid to the victims, but the victims have refused to accept their aid and dismissed them from their camps,” a resident of Maungdaw confirmed.

It was learned that anger and dissatisfaction against the international NGOs is growing among the local Arakanese ethnic residents in Maungdaw as news is widely spreading in their township that officials of those NGOs were involved in agitating the Muslims to launch the recent violent attacks against them.

The international NGOs, including the UN’s organizations, are also said to have practiced widespread discrimination against the ethnic Arakanese people in their decades-long operation in the area.

Bangladesh business delegation leave for Arakan to attend trade meeting

Maungdaw: A 13 members’ Bangladesh business delegation left for Burma through the Maungdaw- Teknaf border point on Monday to attend a trade meeting which is scheduled to be held in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan, on 29 May 2012, said a businessman on border.

The delegation is led by Sayr Muhamad Nurl, the deputy commissioner of Cox’sbazar district left on Monday from Teknaf, a bordering town with Burma, by machine boats across Naff River.

Min Gan port in Sittwe for border trade with Bangladesh.

According to a Business source, a business meeting related to border trade between Burma and Bangladesh is likely to be held in Sittwe on 29 May where delegations from the two countries will discuss bilateral issues on border trade.

Bangladesh Business leaders see bright prospects of importing goods from Burma through non-conventional vessels which will help cut both time and cost, said the source.

The source said Bangladesh will submit a proposal that the goods from Burma be imported quickly with lower transportation costs, this will reduce the prices of goods in the local market.

In the meeting, two delegations are expected to discuss many trade issues especially import and export sectors as well as the banking system between two countries.

The border trade in two neighboring countries is important and the export and import between two countries are doing well through border trade.

According to the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Bangladesh’s exports to Burma  totaled US$ 9.65 million in fiscal 2010-11 while its imports were worth US$ 175.72 million.

Bangladesh mainly imports agriculture products like rice and nuts , and fish and timber from Burma while its exports to Burma are mainly cement, pharmaceuticals, condensed milk, and electric cables.

Bangladesh has been mainly doing business with it close neighbor Burma through informal channels over the years due to problems in international banking transactions. Even though the volume of bilateral trade is low, the potential is very high.

RNDP not allowed to use U Oattama’s Hall for its conference

Sittwe: The spokesperson of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) says his party is not allowed to use U Oattama’s Memorial Hall in Arakan State’s Capital Sittwe as venue for its first conference.

U Khine Pray Soe, the party’s spokesperson, said their party’s conference is scheduled to be held on May 29, but the local municipal department has not allowed the party to use the U Oattama’s Memorial Hall as venue.

“We have asked permission from the municipal department to use the U Oattama Hall as venue for our party’s conference, but we cannot say why they will not allow us the hall. They have permitted the use of the Pinnya Linkara Buddhist Monastery as the venue for our conference”, said U Khine Pray Soe.

He said his party’s leaders planned to use the hall as the venue for the conference because it is a public hall in the town commonly used by other political parties, governmental and social organizations for holding their conferences and meetings.

The RNDP’s leaders are said to have met the regional chief minister and asked for permission to use the U Oattama Hall as well, but the chief minister told them that he was not responsible for the hall and that they must ask for permission from the municipal department as the hall is under control of the department.

U Khine Pray Soe said the township’s municipal department told them that the hall could not be used for the conference as it is now under planned to be reconstructed into a large building.

He said that his party has to shift the venue for the conference to the Pinnya Linkara Buddhist Monastery and will hold the conference as per schedules starting from May 29.

He said his party will discuss and review its constitutions, procedures and the reports by its central committee members of the previous tenure in order to lay down new policies for the coming tenure in its conference.

Moreover, the new central committee members for the posts of one president, two vice-presidents, one general secretary, two assistant secretaries, two treasurers and other departmental posts are said to be elected in the conference as well.

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.


Leaders of six political parties to attend political Seminar in Australia

Yangon: The leaders of six political parties in Burma will attend a political seminar in Australia which is conducted by the Center for Democratic Institutions (CDI) at Australia National University.

Canberra city map in Google

The leaders who will attend the seminar are U Hla Saw from RNDP, U Zozam from CNP, Dr. Than Nyein from NDF, Daw Than Than Nu from Democratic Party, U Tun Thein from NUP and U Hla Maung from Democratic Development Party.

“We are invited by the Center for Democratic Institutions (CDI) that is an organization under the Australia National University to attend a political program that is scheduled to be held from 21 to 25 May”, said U Oo Hla Saw, the General Secretary of the RNDP.

He said the program titled “Political Party Leadership Program” will be held in Canberra, the capital of Australia, and besides politicians from Burma, 4 from Indonesia, 2 from Thailand, 1 from Philippine and 1 from Malaysia are also invited to the program.

“Total 14 politicians including the six from our country will attend the program. The program is for exchanging thoughts between the political parties of democratic countries and discussing the procedures and difficulties of their respective parties”, he said.

U Oo Hla Saw said he will depart from Rangoon on 18 May to attend the program in Australia.

Residents Protest for Electricity in Arakan’s Ma-ei

Ma-Ei: About 70 residents have taken to the streets to protest against the Electric Power Cooperation (EPC) on Saturday in Ma-ei Sub-Township in Taungup Township in southeastern Arakan State.

Such activities for 24 hour electricity campaign around Arakan emerge frequently.

“It has already been 47 days since the electricity was cut in Ma-ei. But the electric meters are increasing up to 3 – 4 units without electricity and we had to pay a bill of 2,700 to 2,800 Kyat per household for the last month to EPC. We are dissatisfied with this and have staged a protest against the EPC,” said one of the residents participating in the protest.

The resident said they marched to the EPC office in the town, but as its officials were away from the office, they had to proceed to the township administration office.

“We first staged a protest in front of the EPC office. As there was no official in the office, we marched to the township administration office and Adminstrator U Tun Soe Wai promised us that he would try to get electricity back by the 29th of this month,” he said.

The residents reportedly ended their protest after receiving promises of restored electricity from the administrator.

However, the resident said they would stage a protest again if the electricity is not restored as promised by the administrator. “We will continue our protest and we also have plans to continue our demands at the district level, state level, and even to the central level of the EPC if our demands are not met as promised by the administrator,” he said.

Ma-ei was recognized as a sub-township in 2004 and is situated some 45 miles away from the main town of Taungup. There are four residential wards with over 1,000 households in the town. It was learned that three out of four wards in the town have been suffering from a total power outage for nearly two months.


Pipeline Compensation Causes Disunity Among Villagers

Kyauk Pru: The unsystematic distribution of compensation for land lost to the gas pipeline construction has caused social problems and disunity in the villages in Kyaukpru Township in Arakan State, said U Kyaw Lwin, and MP of the Regional Parliament from the area.

“The problems are occurring in the villages that are crossed by the pipeline in our township, mainly in the villages of Kapaingchaung, Kyaukkhamaung, and Ratana. We have received a lot of complaing letters from the villagers of those villages. Their complaints are al about improper compensation for their land that was lost to the pipeline,” said U Kyaw Lwin.

He said the villagers have not received fair compensation for their lost land, and there are problems where the real landowners have not received their compensation because someone else has fraudulently taken it under the cover of their names.

“I have analyzed that these problems are coming up among the villagers mainly because of the fraudulent management of the responsible authorities over their lands and compensation. There are now so many cases resulting from those fraudulences in the legal courts in our area as well,” he added.

The township administration office and the land department are said to be currently distributing the compensation for the gas pipeline in Kyaukpru Township.

U Kyaw Lwin also said, “The problem is very serious especially in Kapaingchaung Village at present because the land commonly owned by 160 villages was confiscated for the pipeline, but authorities have given compensation to only 57 villagers without giving anything to the others. Dissatisfied with the discriminative compensation, the remaining villagers have abandoned work to med the dykes that are very important for the farmland in the village and over 1,000 acres of farmland in the village is now being destroyed.”

The land department is said to have divided the dykes along the farmland in the village into upper and lower parts, and the compensation was given to 57 villagers who own land at the upper part of the dykes, while nothing was given to those at the lower dykes, although they are supposed to compensate all the villagers who own land along the dykes for the pipeline.

U Kyaw Lwin said he has submitted all the problems the villagers are facing regarding the pipeline to the Chairman of the State Parliament for a solution.

First Conference of Arakanese Major Political Party to be held

Sittwe: The first conference of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the wining party of Arakan in 2010 general election, will be held in May 29, 2012.

U Aung Kyaw Zan, the president of the organizing committee told Narinjara that the conference will be held in U Ottama Conference Hall in Sittwe.

‘May 29 is confirmed to be the date of the conference. About 100 representatives will attend. The main discussion in the conference will be on the activities regarding party development and party consolidation. A critical analysis of the Party Constitution will be initiated and selection of committee members will be conducted ’

The agenda for the conference is being developed through negotiation and some decisions have been delegated to particular agendas.

‘The party constitution and its articles will be mainly considered for updating.  Another thing is the normal procedures of the constitution and the selection of people will be discussed. In addition, reports from the current CECs will be heard and analyzed and they will be used for further development.’

5 representatives from each township will attend the conference. Besides representatives from 17 Arakanese townships, representatives from Yangon will also attend.

‘Conference representatives 90, plus CEC 40 will make the attendees 130. There will also be observers such as experts on different disciplines and party supporters.’ said U Aung Kyaw Zan.

Funds for the conference will come from the party leaders, U Myint Naing, the treasury of the the Party, told Narinjara.

This party conference will select the new CECs and one president, two deputy presidents, one secretary, two secretariats, one treasurer, and the conference will also select different departments.

NLD opens village-level offices in Arakan

Taungup: The National League for Democracy has been opening village-level offices in Arakan State with an aim to educate the ideology of democracy to the rural people, said U Khin Hla, a regional leader of the party.

“We have already opened village-level offices in a number of rural villages in Taungup Township. Our main target is to spread the ideology of democracy among the rural villagers in our region”, said U Khin Hla.

He said his party opened its village branches in Sarprun Village on April 28, Ngaroketaung Village on 29 April, Kyawkai Village on May 1, Bueshwemaw Village on May 2, Kularaung Village on May 4, Panhtawkyun and Natkan Villages on May 5 in Taungup Township respectively.

“The rural villagers should know the basic ideology of democracy. Every citizen of a democratic country should know about the essence of democracy and the constitution of their state. They should know their rights as well as their responsibilities and obligations as a citizen. They should know the policies of our NLD party as well. Now they will get this knowledge as we have opened our offices in their villages”, he said.

U Khin Hla said though they could successfully open offices in some villages, they have faced obstructions and disturbances in some other villages in Taungup Township.

“Distinctly we faced disturbance and obstruction by a village administrator known as Maung Win while we were receiving new members and preparing to open our offices in Tarray, Myohaung, Taungsauk, and Kyauktatar Villages in the Thunchikaing Village Tract in Taungup Township. He told us that without his permission, no party can carry out any activities in the villages. We have complained to the higher authorities, but no action is taken against him yet”, said U Khin Hla.

The NLD was well establishment in Taungup Township in southeastern Arakan State during the 1990 elections. The military authorities of the former regime cracked down on the party in the township arresting and imprisoning its leaders and members after the elections. The party’s Chairman U Kyaw Khine, Secretary U Khin Hla and Treasurer U Min Aung were included among those arrested and imprisoned and they were released in recent years.

The party reopened its office in Taungup on 22 February 2012.

Arakanese Emigrating for Jobs on the Rise

Rathidaung: The number of people leaving their homeland in Arakan is increasing by the day due to the economic crisis and job scarcity in the western Burmese state, report local residents.

“There are now almost no people in our villages here. Only children and elderly people remain in the villages because the people in the villages – not only the men but also the women – have been leaving for Thailand, Malaysia, and China,” said a villager from Krakroeseik Village, situated on the bank of the Mayu River in Rathidaung Township.

A ticket seller at Toe Ratanar Bus Lines in Rathidaung said passengers from the area have to buy their tickets a couple weeks in advance for their travel on Rangoon and Mandalay-bound buses because the number of people departing from the area is increasing.

“There is no road to travel directly from Rathidaung to Rangoon and the buses are running from Sittwe. But we have now opened a ticket counter in Rathidaung because the people from the area are leaving for the Thai, Malaysian, and Chinese borders in increasing numbers nowadays. People have to wait at least 15 days to get a ticket for their travel on our buses,” said the ticket seller.

Rathidaung is situated 20 miles north of Sittwe, the capital in the region, and it has no road link to Sittwe or to Rangoon. People from the area travel to Sittwe and on to Rangoon by road, and then leave for neighboring countries by crossing over the eastern borders, the ticket seller said.

“There are now three to four ticket selling counters for the different bus lines, such as Toe Ratanar, Shwepyi Rakhine, and King Star. Every counter is selling full tickets for their buses every day because so many people are departing from the area,” he said.

An in-charge of Shwepyi Rakhine Bus Liner also said Rathidaung Township is not the only place people are leaving from – people from almost every township in northern Arakan State, such as Ponnakyunt, Kyauktaw, Mrauk U, Paletwa, Minbya, and Pauktaw Townships, are also leaving their homes to travel out on the Sittwe-Rangoon Road.

“We cannot say if people are leaving to go abroad, but people from almost all townships here are going to Rangoon. There are 60 seats on our buses and every day our buses are full with people leaving the region to go to Rangoon, but we don’t know where they will continue to go from Rangoon,” said the in-charge.

According to the sources, most of the people who are leaving are from rural villages in the region.

“If we have to tell what we have found in our village and nearby villages, there are at least 20 to 30 people leaving for work abroad every day. There are different ages of men, women, and youth,” said an elder from Zaytiprun Village in Rathidaung.

The elder said the people are leaving from their villages because of unemployment in their villages.

“They are leaving from their villages not because they want to, but mainly because they have no jobs in their villages. In a household, only the household head has a job. As their jobs are of farming, they are unable to maintain the living of the whole family. That’s why they are leaving from their villages for job opportunities elsewhere after selling off or mortgaging what they have,” said the elder.

A villager from Laungchaung Village from the area also said only 3 – 4 percent of those who left their villages are doing well, while the majority of them are suffering from various difficulties abroad.

“Not all of those working abroad are doing well, only 3 or 4 in a hundred are able to do well there. They have left their homes for working abroad actually because they have been suffering from joblessness and they just need to make their own living even though they are unable to send their earnings back home,” said the villager.

People from Arakan State are said to be leaving not only for Thailand, Malaysia, and China, but also for Kachin State – where an intense civil war is being waged – for job opportunities.

U Hla Maung Thein, MP of the Regional Parliament from Rathidaung, said he feels heavy in his heart for the future of Arakan State, as the number of Arakanese people leaving their homeland is on the rise.

A farmer from Rathidaung said the paddy farming in the township will be hurt in the coming season because the people who work as farmhands are also among those leaving the area.

“We are now facing a shortage of farmhands. Though we offer double wages, we still have not found a man to work as a farmhand for our paddy farming this coming season. As we are doing our cultivation only by manual labor, the scarcity of farmhands will hurt the paddy production this year in our Arakan region. But we have not found any sign of the authorities considering the matter,” said the farmer.

“Only children and old people are remaining in almost every village in the township because the young, work-aged, people have left their homes to work elsewhere in the country and abroad, and that has caused great difficulty even for the funerals and social functions in those villages as well,” he added.