No end in sight to suffering of Rohingyas in Myanmar

21 Rohingyas were sentenced to two years in jail after they were detained while trying to escape the Rakhine State where the community has been confined to camps

October 13, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
No end in sight to suffering of Rohingyas in Myanmar
A policeman at a Rohingya camp in the Rakhine state. Photo: AFP

On October 8, 65-year-old Siddique Ahmad, a member of the Rohingya community, died when security forces opened fire at a group of fishermen in the Buthidaung township of the Rakhine state in Myanmar. Siddique was shot in the head and died on the spot.

Despite repeated appeals by the United Nations, there seems to be no end in sight to the suffering of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, with large numbers still being attacked and arrested in the country.

Villagers who recovered Ahmad’s body were ordered by military officials to not conduct a post-mortem. Due to intimidation, villagers buried him immediately without any police verification.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fled the Rakhine state in 2015. Those who stayed behind are caught between the violence perpetrated by the separatist Arakan Army and Myanmarese armed forces.

Last week, 21 members of the Rohingya community were sentenced to two years imprisonment after a sham one-day trial, where the accused were not allowed access to lawyers. They were part of a group of 30 people who had escaped the Rakhine province and were headed to Yangon in a bid to reach Malaysia, according to reports. They were held under the draconian 1949 Residents of Burma Registration Act, which places severe restrictions on the movement of Rohingyas. Eight members of the group are children who have been separated from their families and sent to ‘training schools.’ A decision has not been taken about the ninth member, a child of five.

Human rights groups say that more Rohingyas are trying to escape the horrible conditions in camps in Rakhine state in which they are confined. According an Amnesty report, “Caged without a roof: Apartheid in Myanmar’s Rakhine State“, the ongoing situation is akin to apartheid. Those who seek to escape are being punished as well.