The Maungdaw Rohingya community held a silent demonstration on election day (8 November) by staying indoors and not using their vehicles according to Rakib a Maungdaw villager.
He said the normally busy Maungdaw main road was quiet because rickshaws, trucks, buses and private cars owned by Rohingyas were not running. The only people out on the streets were Rakhine and Hindu people travelling to polling stations to vote.
Halim, a human rights watchdog from Maungdaw, said that most of the vehicles in Maungdaw are owned by Rohingyas and they had decided not to use them on election day because the authorities always requisition their vehicles.
He also said that the Maungdaw District and Township Administration Officers and the District Election Commissioners told Local Administration Officers to order the Rohingya community not to come out onto the streets on election day.
Anwer, a rickshaw puller from Maungdaw, said: "I need to work everyday for my familiy's survival, but today I do not want to go out to work because I was denied my voting rights."
Ashique, a businessman from Maungdaw, explained that the Rohingya community had lost its voting rights for the first time since independence in Burma and the community did not want to cause any problems between the Rohingya and Rakhine communities by defying the order and going out.
Mohamed Anis, a vehicle owner, said that election commissioners had ordered the police department to to requisition vehicles from the beginning of the election campaign until it finished on 6 November. He claimed that the police had only requisitioned Rohingya vehicles.
Rafique, an elder from Maungdaw North, said that, for the first time, hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas had been excluded from voting.
He said: “It’s my first time not voting in Burma’s elections. I have been voting since Burma’s independence. I know Rohingyas have the right to vote and to be elected in all the elections held in Burma."
Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI