Kyauk Pru: Burmese military oppression is still continuing in western Burma’s Arakan State like in the military era, though it has been nearly one year since U Thein Sein led the civilian government takeover of state power, according to local residents.
“We are still suffering from military torture and extortion. We do not know now to whom and where we have to complain of our suffering because no government authority is coming to protect us from those unruly oppressors despite our repeated complaints”, said a boat owner from Kyaukpru in Arakan State.
The boat owner said the sailors of the warships being deployed by the Danyawady Naval Headquarter at Ohngyein Port situated 10 miles east of Kyaukpru are inflicting human rights abuses, including torture and extortion on the local travelling boats.
“The naval forces at Ohngyein Port have ordered every passerby boat to report to them and they will ask for whatever they want from the boats. They even ask the boats to bring liquor, beer, cigarette, sugar and condensed milk for them from the town. If they do not get it they beat the boatmen and make them stand the whole day in the bright sun”, he said.
According to the source, the boats and travellers from the islands of Myotchaung and Masarai are suffering the most from extortion and torture by the naval forces of the Ohngyein port because the port is situated between the islands and the town. There are over 60 villages on the islands and the villagers of the islands depend solely on the local boats to travel from their islands to the town in the area.
A villager from Myotchaung Island also said, “No boat is allowed to pass by without reporting in Ohngyein. Recently they have even stopped the boat in which State Parliament MP U Kyaw Lwin was coming. They ask for money or goods from the boats and will seize or fine the boats that fail to report to them. Their unruly practices have troubled the boats and travellers here very much.”
It is also learnt from the local residents that besides the naval forces, the artillery battalion based at Saigree Village nearby the Naungtaw River is collecting forcible toll taxes from the local fishing and travelling boats patrolling in a speed boat in its nearby waters.
The residents said the armed forces in their area are continuing their practices upon the civilians like before, even though the government has claimed to have already changed to civilian rule in Burma.