Overnight and through Friday, the situation in Arakan State has shown little sign of improvement. On the contrary, it seems that the violence has now spread to other communities as well. A number of our sources have also commented that the recent escalation is due to the President’s office directly instructing army personnel to shoot on sight, those causing disturbances, Rakhine or Rohingya. This decision, with the reports that army personnel have actually shot, maimed and killed some Rakhine has led to huge upsurge of violence against the Rohingya by Rakhine locals.
As many as 5,000 Rohingya are thought to be floating in the off-shore of Arakan state namely near the port of Sittwe and through the mouth of the Kaladan River. Since Friday morning, authorities including NaSaKa, border forces and Myanmar Navy forces have not allowed any boats to mount at Sittwe and have instead diverted the boats to go Rathedaung further northwards. Those diverted were Kyak Pru township refugees. It has been reported through various sources and eye-witnesses that till the time of publishing, circa 46 boat loads of Rohingya have reached the south coast of Maungdaw. These had attempted to anchor at Shita Furukia beach (50 miles south of Maungdaw) but were denied access to do so. They have been ushered further north towards the Naf River and Bangladesh.
Pregnant Rohingya Woman and Child Shot Dead
On Chaukpandu Beach south of Alay Thangyaw ( about 40 miles south of Maungdaw) a Rohingya woman had given birth to a child and tried to come out of the boat but army fired shots, hitting the mother, and, as a result both mother and child were dead.
Friday afternoon saw a further 4,300 Rohingya arrive near Sittwe by 59 small engine-less boats. Those on board were displaced from Minbya and Pauk Taw townships. Once again authorities turned them away and diverted them northwards. Refugees had tried to explain that they were happy to be escorted to the IDP refugee camps in Sittwe but even so, authorities did not grant access to land.
In total almost 10,000 Rohingya remain stranded in the Kyak Pru Channel and the mouth of Kaladan River aboard rickety boats unable to shore at ports.
This morning also saw fresh arson attacks taking place in Rohingya villages of Shuu Li Pyin (177 houses burnt, 1084 displaced), Kay Byin (120 houses burnt, 817 displaced), Thea Ywa (138 houses burnt, 891 displaced) and Cha Ni Byin (320 houses burnt, 2256 displaced) in Pauk Taw township.
"They have taken all of our men by military vehicles for abuse"
In Kyak Pru township, seventy five men who were unable to board boats to escape the violence were rounded by Rakhine locals and were forced onto military trucks. One person who had managed to escape, contacted our source in Yangon – he said under condition of anonymity “I don’t know what we have done to deserve this. I wasn’t trying to stay in Kyak Pru, I was trying to leave. Even then, they have stopped us. They have taken all of our men by military vehicles to Nga Chaung, Tha Byin Done and Kyauk Tha Lone for abuse”. Our source then confirmed with us that these three villages were very remote with little or no inhabitants.
Mass Grave Found in Yin Thae village
We had reported on Tuesday that a mass grave was discovered but were awaiting further confirmation. This afternoon, BROUK confirmed that 200 Rohingya dead bodies were buried in a mass grave in a long burrow in Yin Thae Village, Mrauk Oo Township.
In a response to recent upsurge of violence, late on Thursday evening, Secretary Genral of the UN, Ban Ki Moon through a spokesperson relayed a statement;
The widening mistrust between the communities is being exploited by militant and criminal elements to cause large-scale loss of human lives, material destruction, displaced families as well as fear, humiliation and hatred affecting the people from all walks of life. The fabric of social order could be irreparably damaged and the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardized.
Alongside Rohingya death and peril, of course the Rakhine locals are often caught in the violence and have suffered many casualties and fatalities also. In a report released this afternoon, Narinjara, a pro Rakhine news agency reported the death of a further 10 Rakhine locals.
Thein Sein and Suu Kyi's Muted Calls For Peace
Responding to calls for a halt to hostilities President Thein Sein of Myanmar finally released a statement on Friday.
As riots and violence occurred again have a great impact on the national integrity and interest, effective measures will be taken for rule of law and community peace and tranquility with the collaborative efforts of Myanmar Police Force, Tatmadaw and local people. As it is learnt that there are persons and organizations who are conducting manipulation in the incidents in Rakhine State behind the scene, it is announced that they will be exposed and legal actions will be taken against them
More worryingly, the NLD, the party of the much favoured and lavishly praised Aung Sang Suu Kyi on Thursday also released a statement. In it, whilst calling for peace, the statement also clearly uses the term illegal Bangalis rather than Rohingya.
Sadly we heard the news that because of another clashes between ethnic Arakhiness and Bangali people in Kyaut Phyu, Min Pyar and Myaut Oo, there are many deaths and many severely injured people. (translation courtesy of Burma Campaign UK)
Violence Spreads To Kaman Community
Finally, it emerged on Friday from a wide range of sources, that violence and aggression has now also been shown to the Kaman community. The Kaman are the direct descendants of those that fought for Arakan liberation and held high Government positions in the 14th Century. They too, like the Rohingya are Muslims but are regarded as one of the official ethnic groups of Myanmar – meaning they have full citizenship. The spread of violence to the Kaman proves as had been suggested previously that the state sponsored Rakhine hatred towards these communities are in fact racist and Islamaphobic in nature. Violence has spread to the Kaman community in the Pa-Louk-Taung and Shwe-Dune areas of Yaan-Byay Township. So far, two people have been killed as a result of the arson attacks whilst swathes of Kaman have sought refuge at the Township administrative office.