Maungdaw, Arakan State: Burmese soldiers have been posted around the markets in Maungdaw to ensure Rohingyas can buy rice in advance of an upcoming visit by UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana.
In the aftermath of the worst sectarian violence in Burma in decades many Arakanese business refused to sell food to Rohingyas.
According to an elder, although Rohingya are now being allowed to buy food police are extorting money from them on their way home.
“The army is stationed near the market of Maungdaw and other areas where Rohingya buy their food. The soldiers also started selling rice to us, since July 27. But when we try to take the rice home police who are stationed near the clock tower will demand money. They ask for 1000 kyats ($1.14 US) for each bag. If we don’t pay the bribes they steal our rice and any other valuables we have.”
A school teacher said the military are only allowing Rohingya to buy rice because of the UN visit.
“All of the sudden the authorities change direction from not selling food to Rohingya to allowing it just to prove to UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Tomas Ojea Quintana that it’s not happening.”
The school teacher wondered why the army isn’t positioned near the clock tower, where the police are stationed, so the Rohingya can also return home safely.
On a report on the UN website, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, “We have been receiving a stream of reports from independent sources alleging discriminatory and arbitrary responses by security forces, and even their instigation of and involvement in clashes. Reports indicate that the initial swift response of the authorities to the communal violence may have turned into a crackdown targeting Muslims, in particular members of the Rohingya [Muslim] community.”
Ms. Pillay welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s visit, but noted that “while he will be able to make an initial assessment during his one-day visit, this is no substitute for a fully-fledged independent investigation.”
According to a Maungdaw elder, if Quintana wants to really know what’s happening to the Rohingya in the aftermath of the riots he needs to go to their villages. But the authorities will take him to meet Rohingya who are just puppets of the Burmese government, he said.
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