The following is a report from one of our protected sources- a Journalist in Burma who has received verified reports of the situation in Arakan over the last couple of days.
Today (20th of August) is the day of Eid Ul Fitr, marking the end of the month long Ramadan. All Muslims celebrated the day with religious fervour all over Myanmar except in Arakan (Rakhine state). The Rohingya Muslims in Arakan state have to mark the occasion by holding Eid prayers in individual homes rather than gathering for congregational prayers on this special day. Mosques in the Arakan state have been locked since 8th June,2012 as punishment to the Rohingya Muslim community for alleged engagement in communal riots.
Rakhine Buddhists are absolved from their involvement and continue committing crimes against Muslims. The Buddhist Monasteries remain open and their religious edifices have become centres of religious fanaticism. Meetings are regularly held in the Monasteries to carry out attacks, loot, kill, plunder and rape against the Rohingya community.
On 19th (Sunday), the authorities in Maungdaw, in utter surprise to the Muslims, came out to organize Eid prayers in Mosques which were to be opened for this purpose. The Maungdaw Township Administration Office with the help of police, went to the wards to organize Eid prayers and some members from the wards (ward 1, 2, 4 and 5) were forced to sign the paper promising to go to the Mosques for Eid prayer. But the Muslim community was adamant not to go the Mosques as it was clear that the authorities had some ulterior motive behind the move. Muslims are suspicious why the government planned an Eid prayer when all Mosques had been closed for daily prayers for the last two and half months. All caretakers of Mosques, the Imams (prayer leading person), Adhan prayer callers and those who are linked with the management of Mosques were arrested.
The desperate attempt of the authorities to open the Mosque only for Eid prayer and to lock up again was merely to show the International community that Muslims are free in conducting religious rites and face no restriction in their practices. The authorities must have arranged to take photos of mass congregations all over Maungdaw township to show as evidence of religious freedom in Arakan. Many Muslims feared that by going out for congregational Eid prayers, they would be trapped and mass arrests would follow under the existing emergency law.
In some places (Bawli Bazaar- Kyin Chaung), the Nasaka officials had forced the Rohingya Muslims by herding them to the Mosque and compelled to perform Eid prayer while the camera wielding Nasaka were taking photos. It is possible that other places in Northern Arakan had also faced such kind of forced Eid congregational prayers.
Myanmar Under Scrutiny
The Myanmar authorities are very anxious to show the world that religious persecutions are not committed in Arakan against Muslim Rohingya community. As the government is under severe pressure for committing crimes against humanity and under scrutiny, desperate attempts have been made to hide the real situation which the authorities with Rakhine Buddhists have created to exterminate Rohingya Muslims from the soil of Arakan. To hide the crimes committed, no International inquiry teams are welcomed and instead, their own investigation committee has been formed to uncover the reasons behind the violence.
In fact, the inquiry committee consists of people who have been the masterminds of the recent violence and for this reason, it cannot be called a neutral and unbiased investigation. It is sure that the outcome of the enquiry will be one of mockery to the investigation as a whole. It is most likely that all entities (army, police, LunHtin, Nasaka, local Rakhines and administration) will be exempt from doing any wrong against Muslims and instead Muslims will be blamed for the violence.
Need for Aid
The Muslim Rohingyas of Arakan are desperately in need of help for sustenance. They are looking forward for arrival of aid without delay. As the International community (Saudi Arabia )has announced help programs for the Rohingyas and other afflicted communities, the Rakhines are unhappy of the developments. Despite once advocating to prevent rice and other essential foodstuffs reaching the Muslim community, to starve them, they now contradictingly show to be providing rice to some Rohingya. This is in an attempt to hide their original nature of hate and intolerance against Muslim Rohingyas and may be to have a share of the proposed aid destined for the vulnerable, particularly the Rohingya Muslims.
The Rakhines and the government had tried to expel all Rohingyas by creating unrest in Arakan. They did not envisage that the downtrodden Rohingyas would have so many friends and sympathisers around the world and would come forward for help them in their struggle. They now see that the Rohingyas are not alone and the world community is not a quiet spectator this case of injustice and continuing human-rights violations.
Image: Al Jazeera/ Al Jazeera Correspondent.