II ARAKAN REPORT Büyük Karaman Caddesi Taylasan Sk. No.3 Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey Tel: +90 212 631 21 21 • www.ihh.org.tr
ARAKAN REPORT 1IntroductionT his report elaborates on violence that unimaginably inhumane conditions at these broke out in Arakan in June 2012, the camps Arakanese Muslims are losing hopes for background of the violent incidents a better future. Kala, a 75-year-old Arakanese and rights violations against Arakanese refugee who has been in these camps forMuslims. The objective of this report is to long years, describes refugees’ despair: “Webring to the public opinion developments are waiting for death that will relieve us ofin the region, inform the Islamic world and our suffering.” To make the matters moreinternational community, and urge decision- tragic, Bangladesh not only has been denyingmaking bodies to take necessary steps to end refugees that have been coming since Juneescalating acts of violence in Arakan. entry into the country but also returning those who arrived in the camps in the past years.Incidents deemed humiliating to humandignity have been going on in Arakan for This report on the ongoing violence in Arakanlong years. Recent clashes have left more has been prepared using interviews withthan 1,000 Muslims dead and over 90,000 refugees who fled Arakan and sought shelterMuslims homeless. Most of the Arakanese in different countries, information provided byfleeing violence are seeking refuge in camps in human rights organizations, and 14-year-longneighboring Bangladesh. However, faced with experience of IHH in the region.
2 ARAKAN REPORTHistorical BackgroundArakan, which has an area of 50,000 square-kilometers lying north to south on theBangladesh-Burma border, has a deep-rootedhistorical heritage. The oldest known historyof Arakan dates back to 3rd century BC. In theregion today known as Arakan, Dhanyawadiand Vesali kingdoms were established inthe 1st century AD and 3rd century ADrespectively.Islam arrived in Arakan in the 8th century withArab merchants. Muslim Arabs, who had asignificant place in maritime commerce, hadestablished strong commercial relations withSouth Asia, Southeast Asia and Far East, andhad founded small commercial hubs in theregion stretching from Arakan to SumatraIsland and Java.In the 15th century, an Islamic kingdom wasfounded in Arakan when the king Narameikhlaadopted Islam, and Islam started to rapidlyspread to neighboring areas.Burmese and British occupationUnder the Burmese occupation that began in 1784,two Arakanese native groups Muslim Rohingyaand Buddhist Rakhine faced repression andpersecution. Thousands of Arakanese fled theirhomeland to escape the Burmese persecution andsouth shelter in India. The British ended Burmeserule in Arakan in 1826 and held the region underthe colonial rule for over 120 years. The two native groups pit against each other Arakanese natives Muslim Rohingyas and Buddhist Rakhines lived side by side in peace until the 19th century. However, Thakin Party, which aimed to end the British occupation of Burma that began in 1826, provoked Buddhist Rakhines against Muslim Rohingyas. When Burma was separated from India in 1937 with colonial rule remaining in place, Thakins seized power inside Burma. Seeds of hatred were sown among ethnic groups with the propaganda that Muslims posed a serious threat to Buddhism and would gain ground and wipe out Buddhists if not stopped, and therefore Rakhines preferred to live under the Burmese rule to a peaceful, independent life with Muslims.
ARAKAN REPORT 31942 MassacreThe first major attacks against Indian and BangladeshiMuslims began after the British withdrew from theregion. Defenseless Muslims were forced to seekrefuge in India and Bangladesh to escape violence.Arakanese Buddhist Rakhines began mass killingsof Muslim Rohingyas after Indian and BangladeshiMuslims left the country. On 28 March 1942, Rakhinesattacked Muslims in Chanbilivillage of MinbyaTownship, and butchered women, men and childrenwith swords and spears. The attacking Rakhinesraped women before brutally killing them andransacked the area after the massacre. Gold, silverand other valuable possessions of Muslim Rohingyaswere confiscated by Thakin leaders and their animals, by anti-Muslim policies of the state, Buddhistscrops and property were given to looters. It is said stepped up their attacks on the Muslim communitythat the Lemro River running through the area turned without facing any preventive measures from thered with the blood of innocent civilians. government. Moreover, the government restricted movement of Muslim Rohingya fleeing violence from Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung to Akyab (officially Sittwe), leaving thousands of Muslims at the mercy of aggressive Buddhists. Even before recovering from the 1942 massacre Muslims found themselves as the target of yet another attack by the Burmese in 1947. In that period certain Muslim groups launched armed resistance against the Burmese state but failed. In 1954 when Muslim groups got more organized and powerful, the Burmese army launched a bloody attack called the Operation Monsoon and eliminated Muslim forces. The same year thousands of Muslims were either killed or deported from the country on grounds that they had aided mujahids. During a visit in 1959 to theDuring the 40-day long attacks that erupted in the Muslim-populated Buthidaung and Maungdaw cities,town of Minbya and spread to the entire Arakan Burmese Prime Minister promised equal citizenshipprovince at least 150,000 Arakanese Muslims were to Muslims, and consequently Muslim mujahids gavekilled, villages were looted and demolished. The up arms and surrendered to the state.settlement areas east of the Kaladan River thatwere once predominantly Muslim had only a smallpercentage of Muslim population after the attacks.The mass killings forced many Arakanese Muslims toseek refuge in neighboring countries, particularly inBangladesh. The events of 1942 made cohabitation inthe future practically impossible for the Rohingya andthe Rakhine, two brotherly nations with a commonhistory.Attacks continuingAnti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, which playeda significant role in independence of Burma, laid offmany Muslims and replaced them with ArakaneseBuddhists shortly after independence. Encouraged
4 ARAKAN REPORT1962 Military Coup and Buddhist Rakhines took over the inter-town trading that was once controlled by Muslims.Repression of Muslims in Burma continued unabateduntil the 1962 coup. In 1962 the military too over power In this period the military junta became increasinglyand nationalized all private enterprises and banks. As more disrespectful to the rights of Muslims. It becamea result, Muslims, who controlled major enterprises in routine for Muslim opinion leaders to be detained atArakan up until that year, lost their economic power. night by the military and released after being tortured.Coup leader General Ne Win issued a number of notices Injustices against the Muslim community wereto Arakan authorities to restrict movement of local encouraged by authorities.Muslims. State-controlled media began propagandabroadcasts claiming Rohingya Muslims were not With support from Burmese authorities, Buddhistnative of Arakan and urged Arakanese Buddhists to act Rakhines began attacking and usurping possessions ofagainst the Muslim population. Such broadcasts, whose Muslims whenever they saw fit. When Muslim applied toonly aim was to pit Buddhist Rakhines against Muslim police stations to complain they would frequently foundRohingyas, escalated tension in the region. themselves in the defendant position on trumped-upWhen he took over power Ne Win moved to put charges. Maltreatment of the police daunted MuslimsBuddhists in charge of Arakan administration. Almost and they simply gave up asking for justice.all Muslim police officers working in border areas were After seizing power the military junta launched aappointed to distant parts of the country. Muslim civil merciless offensive called “Immigrant Investigationservants were threatened with dismissal or being Operation.” Physical torture, molestation of women,removed from northern Arakan. All but a few Rohingya extortion, and similar mistreatment acts became acivil servants and teachers were replaced with Burmeseand Rakhines who had migrated to the region several matter of ordinary life. Many innocent people wereyears ago from eastern Pakistan. The military regime labeled as illegal immigrant and arrested. Hundreds ofabolished Mayu Frontier Administration and brought people were forcefully removed from their homes inthe region under the control of central government. Kyauktaw, Mrohaung, Pauktaw, Myebon and Minya, andTighter economic restrictions were imposed on Muslims deported to Bangladesh.
ARAKAN REPORT 5King Dragon Operation Arakanese refugees arrived in Bangladesh and were placed in makeshift camps by the authorities.With “King Dragon Operation” in March 1978, theBurmese government aimed to intimidate the As Nagamin Units withdrew from evacuated villages,Muslims and force them to leave Arakan. The Rakhines, who had looted and burned down Muslimoperation was launched in the largest Muslim houses and had stolen their animals, moved in.village in the town of Akyab and had a ripple effectthroughout the region. The reports that Muslim Buddhismization of Arakanmasses had been arrested in Akyab, women and The Myanmar state, which aims to wipe out themen and children, young and elderly everyone had Islamic heritage in the country and completelybeen tortured, women had been raped and killed, reshape the region, has been building Buddhistquickly reached the entire northern Arakan. Police temples in almost every corner of northern Arakan.and immigrant scrutiny officers of the Nagamin Team, Hill tribes of Murung, Chakma, and Saak have beenset up by the military, reached Buthidaung region and ordered to settle the land taken from Muslims, andterrorized the local community. Hundreds of Muslim Buddhist Rakhines coming from Arakan and evenmen and women were arrested, many were killed Bangladesh have been placed in areas previouslyafter being tortured and women were raped. populated by Muslims. Faced with aggression from the new despot settlers that are backed byArakanese Muslims, who were terrorized by brutal the government, Arakanese Muslims have begunattacks and no longer had security of life and migrating out of Arakan.property, were forced to leave their homes to protecttheir honor. The Rohingya people headed for the From 1990 onward, hundreds of thousands ofBangladeshi border through formidable route, but Arakanese have fled to neighboring Bangladeshonce again were targeted by Buddhist Rakhines as refugees to escape pressure and persecution.and security forces and all their possessions were Muslims villages were evacuated on ground that theyconfiscated. Most of the Muslims fleeing mass killings would be rebuilt as model settlements, but Buddhistin Arakan were killed while escaping. Those who Rakhines were placed in the evacuated villages. Ascould reach the Naf River that marks the Bangladesh- part of the policy to make Arakan Buddhist, the nameBurma border were forced to jump into treacherous of Arakan state was changed to Rakhine and thewaters of the river when their boats were fired name of the state capital was changed from Akyab toon. In the course of several months over 300,000 Sittwe.
6 ARAKAN REPORTRights Violations To DateMassacres torture, imprisoned or executed. Arakanese Muslims are still facing arbitrary detentions, torture andThe Burmese rule in Arakan paved the way for a mistreatment.period marked with rights violations against theRohingya people. In the 1938 massacre, thousands Religious and Ethnic Discrimination,of Arakanese Muslims were killed and more than Revocation of Citizenship500,000 were forced to leave their homeland. In1942 Muslims were target of another massacre that The situation of Arakanese Muslims deterioratedclaimed 150,000 Muslim lives. The death toll of in the aftermath of the 1962 coup. Most of theattacks on Muslims in 1947, the Monsoon Operation commercial enterprises owned by Rohingyas untilof 1954 and the King Dragon Operation of 1978 is that time were nationalized and thereby economicin ten thousands. Intimidation and attacks against power of Muslims was reduced. State-controlledArakanese Muslims continue as of today. media started to portray Rohingyas as foreigners and Muslims in government positions were replacedUnlawful Detention, Torture and with Buddhists.Maltreatment The question of Arakanese Muslims is not the onlyIn the years following the 1962 coup, the Rohingyas problem the Burmese state has. The military regimewere subjected to unlawful detention, torture and has subjected ethnic minorities of Burma, wheremaltreatment. Communal prayers and Qurban 64 native peoples and more than 200 languagesritual were banned. It is known that during the 1978 and dialects are spoken, to systematic pressure andKing Dragon Operation large numbers of Muslim discrimination. The ethnic composition of Burmawomen, men and elderly people were subjected to is 68% Bamar, 9% Shan, 7% Karen, 4% Buddhist
ARAKAN REPORT 7Rakhine, 3% Chinese, 2% Mon, 2% Indian, and 5% their towns; those living in northern Arakan wereother ethnic groups, including Arakanese Muslims forcefully removed from their homes, coerced into(Rohingyas). The fact that Arakanese Muslims, forced labor, and subjected to torture.Shan and Karen people are systematicallypersecuted by the Burmese state has beenconfirmed by international institutions.Ethnic groups face official discrimination atschools and governmental institutions, cultures,languages, history and identities of ethnic peoplesare restricted or completely banned. Members ofethnic communities are used as forced labor bythe military and face insulting treatment at work.These civilians are treated really badly and theysometimes pay the price of their ethnicity withtheir lives. Arakanese Muslims are worst affectedby discriminative and restrictive policies.The 1982 Citizenship Law left Rohingya out of thelist of ethnic groups, labeling them as foreigners intheir own native land. Today Rohingyas are still notrecognized as citizen of Burma. By stripping themoff their citizenship, Rohingyas were denied one oftheir most basic human rights. In those years thegovernment openly supported anti-Muslim riots.Rohingyas were prevented from travelling outside
8 ARAKAN REPORTBuilding New Settlementsand Displacement of MuslimsThe most serious rights violations Arakanese Muslimshave experienced at the hands of the Burmese militaryregime is the confiscation of Muslim property afterthey have been forced out of their homes and settlingBuddhists in Muslim homes under the cover of modelvillages. Muslims are forced to work in the constructionof these model villages. The villages are constructedfrom materials confiscated from Muslims and newhomes are built in a way to resemble historical Buddhisthomes. Buddhists living in Arakan, in central Burmaand even in Bangladesh are encouraged to move intonorthern Arakan, where Muslims live, in an effort toreduce the overall percentage of Muslim population inthe region. The Buddhist urged to settle in Arakan bringtheir relatives with them. Shelter, land, and livestockneeds of new settlers are provided from confiscated them under systematic pressure. This policy involvesMuslim property. On 25 March 1999, 34 new settlers displacement of Muslims from their land and settlingwere brought from Buthidaung to Akyab. Before their Buddhist in their place, confiscating possessions andarrival authorities forced Muslims to make certain property of Muslims, forced labor, shutting mosqueschanges in the villages so that they would resemble and preventing new ones being built, and travel ban.old Buddhist settlements, even Buddha statues were Frequent acts of violence occur in the region as aerected in different parts of the villages. In February result of inciting Buddhists against Muslims.2005, the military junta ordered Arakanese Muslims The objective in settling Buddhist in Muslim villagesto build fences around their villages and forcefully and towns is to reduce the percentage of Arakaneseemployed Muslims for this work. Muslims so that they would not be able to claimEvacuated Rohingya villages were settled by autonomy within Burma. Obliteration of IslamicBuddhists and most of the displaced Rohingyas heritage in Arakan and reshaping it as a Buddhistmoved out of Arakan. Today the Rohingya community land is planned. The military regime not only alterin Arakan is living under extremely hard conditions. demographic shape of Arakan and exploit MuslimsThe Burmese military junta frequently incites but also arms Buddhists settled in the area and urgesArakanese Buddhist against Muslims and keeps them to raid Muslim villages.
ARAKAN REPORT 9Travel Ban period for the permit is approximately 2-3 years, those failing to pay the tax are not allowed to marry,Arakanese Muslims have no freedom of travel and sometimes even those who pay the tax are notin their own land. Muslims residing in cities and granted a permit. That’s why some couples cross intotowns outside Akyab are banned from entering the Bangladesh illegally to marry.Arakanese capital Akyab on any grounds includingemergency medical treatment. They are also not Destruction of Cultural, Historicalallowed to travel to the Burmese capital Rangoon Heritage and Valuesunder any circumstances. Muslims cannot even visit Arakanese Muslims created a rich Islamic heritagevillages and towns neighboring their own. Muslims with the states they founded in history. The Rohingyawith no travel cards and sometimes even those language is a member of the Indo-Europeanwith authorized cards are forced to get off busesand trains. In one instance in February 2001, eightMuslims travelling to Rangoon were detained bypolice for travelling outside Arakan even though theyhad travel permits, and were sentenced to sevenyears in prison.Marriage BanMuslims face serious restrictions when they wantto get married. Muslims have to meet a dozenof procedural requirements to receive a permitfor marriage, which makes extremely difficult forMuslims to marry. A significant part of the Burmesegovernment policy to reduce the Muslim population,the marriage restrictions create serious socialproblems for Muslims. Authorities demand couplesto pay high taxes to get marriage permits. Both theman and the woman willing to get married have topay a tax between 50 and 300,000 kyat. The waiting
10 ARAKAN REPORTlanguages and is very similar to the language spokenin southern Bangladesh. The Rohingya people usedArabic script for about 300 years. The coins mintedby Arakanese kings in history bore Islamic confessionof faith in Arabic. Arakanese cultural heritage, justlike that of other minorities in Myanmar, is beingobliterated as part of Myanmarization policy byBurmese nationalists. The culture of Burma Muslimsand especially culture of Arakanese Muslims isdeemed foreign “Burma culture.” Burma Muslimsare even pressured to change their names. Artifactsdating back to the Islamic reign in Burma are beingdestroyed and place names are being changed. Forinstance, the Arakan name was changed to Rakhineand Akyab was renamed as Sittwe. Mosques andreligious schools, which dot every corner of Arakanand occupy a significant role in Rohingya culture and members of tribes that oppose military junta,religion, are either burned down or Buddhist temples which explains restrictions they encounter. Anotherare erected in their courtyard. point that proves religious persecution is that the government occasionally pressure Buddhist monksPressure on Christians and Buddhists even though Buddhism is the majority religion andBurma Christians, particularly those living in rural is officially propagated. The reason for suppressionareas, are finding their religious rituals being of Buddhist monks is that they oppose oppressiverestricted. Religious leaders agree that politically- military junta. Although the accuracy and reliability ofsanctioned religious discrimination is the main reports from inside Burma is debatable, the numberreason for the problem. Burmese Christians are of jailed monks is estimated to be around 300.
ARAKAN REPORT 11Refugee Problem Out of all Arakanese refugees in Bangladesh, 23,000 returned to Burma in 1996. However,Today hundreds of thousands of Arakanese refugee influx from Burma to Bangladesh didMuslims are living as refugees outside Burma due to not stop. Between 10-15,000 Arakanese fled topressure of the military regime. There are 200,000 Bangladesh in 1996, while at least 5,000 ArakaneseArakanese Muslims in Pakistan, some recognized arrived in the country to escape forced labor,as refugees some not, 500,000 in Saudi Arabia heavy taxation, rape and oppression. About 500and 10,000 in Malaysia. Although a signatory to of them were deported to Burma upon entry intothe Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, Bangladesh.Malaysia regards Arakanese refugees, together with Most of the refugees arriving in Bangladesh wereother refugees in the country, as illegal immigrants not allowed into camps. The Arakanese who wereand refuses to grant them refugee status. However, denied residence in camps opted for an illegalin 2004 Malaysia granted Arakanese permit to stay in the country in forests or slums instead ofstay in the country and they are still living there returning home.without officially being recognized as refugees. Bangladeshi authorities stepped up pressure inThe country with the highest number of Arakanese May 2003 on refugees in two camps in the countryrefugees is Bangladesh, where the United Nations to force them to return home and it had forcefullyHigh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a deported 230,000 refugees to Burma by 2005. Theprotection program in place. Between the years UNHCR is mostly responsible for forced deportation1991 and 1992, about 300,000 Arakanese Muslims for planning to handover its responsibilities towardsmigrated because of persecution of the Burmese refugees to Bangladeshi authorities.government to Bangladesh, which is a small,overcrowded and impoverished country. According to official figures, there were 20,000 refugees in Bangladesh under the protection of theOn 28 April 1992, the UN brokered an agreement UNHCR as of 2005 and they were living in Nayaparabetween Burma and Bangladesh for voluntary and Kutupalong camps in southern Bangladesh.and safe return of Arakanese refugees; however, Nayapara and Kutupalong are housing 12,000necessary measures were not taken to monitor and 8,000 refugees respectively. However, theserefugees’ return through impartial authorities or to figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Thousandsassess their situation in the wake of return. of Arakanese are still fleeing to Bangladesh to
12 ARAKAN REPORT stripped them off their citizenship, making them as foreigners in their own land. Existing and proposed solutions look for ways to relieve institutions and governments off their responsibilities towards refugees rather than safeguarding refugees’ rights. The 2003 UNHCR plan named “promoting self- sufficiency pending voluntary repatriation” fell short of solving the main problem of Arakanese Muslims which is their status as foreigners in their own land and bringing any real improvements to refugees’ life. Human rights organizations monitoring rights violations against Arakanese Muslims have made a number of suggestions for solution to the UNHCR, international community and governments of Bangladesh and Burma. These organizations urged the Bangladeshi government, the UNHCRescape pressure of Burmese government. Most of and international community to take necessarythem are staying as illegal economic migrants in steps to prevent maltreatment of refugees atthe country since they are not allowed into camps. camps and stop deportation of refugees to Burma,The number of unregistered “illegal immigrants” where even refugees are even denied basicis estimated to be about 200,000 according to rights. The suggested solutions also included athe Bangladeshi media, while Arakan Historical call on the Bangladeshi government to ratify theSociety it is nearly 300,000. These unregistered 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status ofmigrants are striving to survive with no assistance Refugees and 1967 Additional Protocol, assistingand protection outside camps on the Bangladesh- Arakanese refugees until conditions in Burma haveBurma border under extremely difficult conditions. improved enough for a safe return and protectionArakanese Muslims, who are not recognized either for refugees. The proposals also demand grantingby the Burmese military junta or Bangladesh, work the UNHCR the authority to supervise whetherillegally in factories without any rights and suffer repatriations are voluntary or not and cooperationfrom maltreatment by security forces. with major institutions and refugees to carry outBangladeshi authorities resort to physical and a plan for ensuring self-sufficiency of returningpsychological tactics to force refugees into refugees.repatriation such as detaining them and then givingthem the option to either sign a document forreturn or be imprisoned. It is known that the familieswho refuse to return home get their ration cardsconfiscated, are sometimes tortured, transferredto different parts of camps, and find their sheltersburned. Separating family members from each otherhave devastating effects. Most men prefer to escapefrom the camp instead of returning to Burma, whichleaves the women and children helpless. The UNHCRremains indifferent to such developments.Bangladesh, the UNHCR and Burma have failedto sign an agreement regarding the Arakaneserefugees in Bangladesh and any solution proposedhas remained on paper. The reason is that proposedsolutions have failed to address the root causes ofthe problems and have even made the matter morecomplicated. The 1982 Citizenship Law enacted bythe Burmese military junta declared all ArakaneseMuslims as “illegal immigrants” and replaced theiridentification cards with new ones that effectively
ARAKAN REPORT 13Incidents Since June 2012The last incidents broke out on 3 June when 10 Muslims of Arakanese with critical condition have been left to die.travelling from the capital Akyab to Maungdaw were Aided by Nasaka (Burmese border security force),killed by Buddhist fanatics. Hundreds of Muslims Hlun-tin (riot police) and the police, Rakhine Buddhistsgathered at the central mosque in Maungdaw to have been trying to displace the Rohingya. Whileprotest the attack but hardline Buddhists and the curfew was in place, security forces and Rakhine groupsBurmese police, who viewed the protest as a threat to went from village to village and set fire to Rohingyatheir existence, attacked the local Muslims and killed houses and fired on those escaping burning houses.and wounded many. The Burmese police branded the Independent sources report that many Rohingyas wereprotest as an uprising against the state and ordered the burned to death in the houses and the bodies werepunishment of the Muslims involved in the incidents.Together with Buddhist fanatics the police began taken away in trucks, adding it is not possible to verifyraiding Muslim villages and towns. exactly how many had been massacred. Reports from an area knownas the fifth zone in Arakan state that atMore than 300 Muslim villages, mosques and least one mosque and many villages had been set onmadrasahs were set on fire on grounds that they were fire. There are no independent media organizations insheltering the criminals. Mosques were besieged by Burma but only a single media outlet that is suppliedBuddhist fanatics. According to independent human stories by the government.rights organizations, around 1,000 people have beenkilled and thousands of Muslims have been forced It is reported that in the region under curfew propertyout of their homes and villages and into forests since of Rohingya had been looted by Rakhines and theviolence erupted in June. Some Muslims set out with Rohingya community had been living in fear. No endboats into Naf River and the Indian Ocean to reach date has been set for curfew, sources report. HomelessBangladesh, but hundreds were drowned to death people find themselves as the target for securitywhen the Bangladeshi government denied them entry forces once the night falls. About 4m Arakanese areinto the country. It has been reported that some of the facing the risk of deportation and violence acts suchwounded have secretly crossed into Bangladesh with as their houses being raided and burned. A serioustheir own means to receive treatment. A large number humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the region.
14 ARAKAN REPORTCurrent State Of Human Rights1. Muslims continue to be killed in Arakan on a dailybasis.2. It is known that a large number of Muslims arecurrently jailed and are subjected to torture but theiridentities and exact number cannot be verified.3. Women are being raped.4. The ongoing travel ban and curfew imposed on theRohingya population have completely paralyzed life.5. Mosques, masjids, houses and villages are beingset on fire and destroyed.6. Masjids and madrasahs cannot be repairedwithout government permit. To monitor compliancewith the regulation, masjids and madrasahs haveto be photographed three times a year as a routinepractice. If unpermitted maintenance is spotted,those responsible are sentenced to between sixmonths and six years in prison plus a fine. No newmosques or madrasah have been allowed to be built The houses are considered as state property andin the last 20 years. if they are burned down accidentally, owners are7. A photograph featuring all family members has sentenced to prison sentences as long as six years.to be handed to government officials every year. 10. To set up a business a Muslim has to establishFamilies are required to pay taxes to the state for partnership with Buddhist. In this partnership, theevery child born and every family member died. Buddhist partner owns half of the business without8. Muslims have no freedom of travel. A Muslim has to investing any capital.get permission and pay tax to travel from one village 11. Muslims have to pay annual taxes for the livestockto another. they own.9. Muslims are forbidden from building their houses 12. Muslims cannot marry without a permit. A coupleout of concrete; they have to make them from wood. wishing to get married has to pay a tax. Sometimes they are denied a permit even if they pay the tax. 13. Muslims are deprived of all public services. For instance, when they get sick they cannot go to state hospitals for treatment. 14. Muslims are not allowed into higher education institutions. 15. Muslims are forbidden to work in public sector jobs. Today there is not a single Muslim civil servant in Arakan. 16. Muslims cannot own fixed line telephones or cellular phones. 17. Muslims are not allowed to own motor vehicles. 18. When Muslims are accused of a crime, they are not give the right to defense and are immediately imprisoned. The police or the army have the authority to raid a Muslim house without a warrant and
ARAKAN REPORT 15accuse its inhabitants of any crime. Raiding officersimmediately jail the residents if they cannot get abribe in return for not arresting them.19. Muslims are subjected to curfew after nine o’clockat night and cannot visit their relatives or neighborswithout permission from the police.20. Muslims are forced to work for the state andBuddhists without receiving any wage in return.21. Muslims have no right to citizenship. They carrywhite identification cards bearing the title “foreigner.”These cards are only for identification purposes anddo not entitle card holders to any rights.22. Muslims are not issued passports. They are provideda document to cross into neighboring Bangladesh andsometimes they cannot return to their country becausetheir documents are not accepted. Arakanese Muslims sought shelter in neighboring countries to escape from decade-long systematic persecution and the year-long refugee life has become a hope for survival. Although it is not possible to estimate the exact number of refugees in Bangladesh, it is well-known by everyone, including the UN, that striving to survive in camps under extremely difficult conditions. The camps in Bangladesh where Arakanese refugees are sheltered: • Kutupalong Refugee Camp. The camp housing 12,000 refugees is officially recognized by the UN. • Nayapara Refugee Camp. The camp where 10,000 refugees has the official UN recognition. • Leda Refugee Camp. The camp is housing 13,000 refugees and is officially recognized by the UN. • Kutupalong Unofficial Refugee Camp. The 95,000 refugees staying in this camp are not treated as refugees by the UN and the Bangladeshi government. The camp residents are constantly experiencing food shortages. The Bangladeshi authorities do not allow entry to the camp which is plagued with frequent deaths from hunger. It is know that more than 100,000 unregistered Arakanese refugees are struggling to survive in woods and villages across Bangladesh.
16 ARAKAN REPORTHumanitarian Aid To Bangladesh-ArakanIHH RELIEF EFFORTS IN THE REGION 700 families (3,000 individuals).IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation has been for 10 • Clothing aid and allowance for Eid were given to 350years delivering donations of Turkish people to refugee orphan students.camps in Bangladesh and meeting basic needs of the • Supplies of canvas, medicine, hygiene kits and similarArakanese. Every year and especially in Qurban and items were distributed at Kutupalong refugee camp.Ramadan periods, we deliver food, educational, health,social and cultural aid. The following is the list of aid we • Medical screenings were carried out at camps.provided to Arakanese refugees over the last five years: • Copies of the Holy Quran were distributed at camps.2006 2007• A project was launched to build a three-floor school • The 50-person capacity orphanage within Ibni Abbas(Ibni Abbas Islamia School) in Cox’s Bazaar. The school Islamia School complex was started to renovated.that was completed in September 2007 provideseducation to about 1,500 students.• A Computer Training Center was set up and it is nowtraining 200 students.• In total 39 water wells were built with 31 of them in thecamps in Bangladesh and eight in Arakan.• In Qurban season, 104 large head of cattle wereslaughtered and the meat was distributed to 14,000people. Another 10 cattle were also slaughtered inArakan and was distributed to 2,100 persons.• In Ramadan month food packages were delivered to
ARAKAN REPORT 17• Food aid was delivered to more than 2,000 families(about 13,000 individuals) that were affected bymonsoon rains.• The 200 cataract patients at the camps wereperformed on and their vision was restored.• In the Ramadan month 11,000 people were providedfood aid.• Stationery sets were distributed to 70 orphan studentsliving in the camps.• Clothes for Eid were given to 70 orphan students livingin the camps.2008• Food aid was delivered to more than 2,000 families(about 12,000 individuals) that were affected by 2010monsoon rains. • Twenty water wells were built in Arakan.• In the Ramadan month around 10,000 people were • Emergency food aid was delivered to Arakaneseprovided food aid. refugee camps.• In Cox’s Bazaar, foundation was laid for a 50-person • Food to suffice for a month was distributed amongstcapacity orphanage (Daru’lIman Orphanage). The 10,000 families (approximately 70,000 people) inorphanage was constructed of concrete and can be Ramadan.added more floors in the future. • In March 2010, emergency food aid was delivered to2009 12,000 families.• Sponsorship was extended to 35 children within the • In Qurban period, 1000 shares of sacrificial animalsscope of Sponsor Family System. were slaughtered in Teknaf and Cox’s Bazaar and the meat was distributed amongst 10,000 people.• Daru’lIman Orphanage being built in the city of Cox’sBazaar was completed and inaugurated. 2011• In the Ramadan month 5,000 families (about 35,000 • The construction of Hacı Ahmet Kınacı Mosque inindividuals) were provided food to suffice for a month. Cox’s Bazaar was completed and the building was• In Qurban period, 1000 shares of sacrificial animals inaugurated.were slaughtered in Teknaf and Cox’s Bazaar and the • As part of 2011 winter aid, 750 orphan and needymeat was distributed amongst 10,000 people. students were provided winter clothing, blankets and
18 ARAKAN REPORTstationery sets, while 500 families in need were givenblankets and food packages.• Within the scope of 2011 Orphans Solidarity Daysorganization, 200 orphan children were circumcisedand examined for diseases. Another 20 young orphangirls were wedded and their wedding ceremony wasfinanced.• Thirteen water wells were built at the refugee camps.• In total 581 shares of aqiqah and nazhr Qurban wereslaughtered at three different times and the meat wasdistributed to impoverished Arakanese refugees. • The foundation of Şahin Altunok and Avni Poçins• In the Ramadan month, 15,000 families (around Mosque that will serve 1,500 people was laid in Cox’s100,000 people) were supplies food (185 tons of rice) to Bazaar.suffice for a month. • A fish farm was purchased to fund Daru’lIman• Foundation was laid for Sümer Mosque in Cox’s Orphanage. The income generated by the farm will beBazaar. used on orphans.• Twenty orphans were put on regular assistance withSponsor Family System. The number of local orphans • Qurban shares were slaughtered and the meat wasadded to the system reached 50. distributed amongst 500 families.• Emergency winter aid was delivered to 2,200 people. • Preparations were initiated for a vocational training project directed at women in need. The project will2012 initially train 70 widows.• The construction of Tepeaşan Family Mosque that will • In June, emergency aid worth €25,000 was deliveredserve to 1,500 people was started. to 2,000 families.
ARAKAN REPORT 19Findings, Analyses And SuggestionsIt has been found that in Arakan, deep-rooted Arakanese Muslims are fleeing to neighboringreligious and ethnically-motivated violence has been countries to escape spiraling violence they arerising and is officially fueled as a policy. facing. There are 28,000 registered and 500,000 unregistered Arakanese refugees in Bangladesh.Recent clashes in the region have left more than Burma is regarded by China, the USA and Russia as1,000 Muslims dead and over 90,000 Muslims a strategic region. China does not want to allow thehomeless. USA gain influence in a country it is sharing borderThe fact that voter lists for the 2012 elections in with. The USA, on the other hand, wishes to play anBurma are scheduled to be published late this year active role in Burma in case of crises with China.is among the main reasons behind recent attacks Under these circumstances, the settlement ofon Muslims. The Rohingya population in Arakan is the problem of Arakanese Muslims is tied to thetried to be reduced so that Buddhists can gain more settlement of problems of the Burmese oppositionpolitical ground. and other ethnic groups in the country. This, however,Systematic acts of violence against Arakanese is dependent on the end of restrictive regime andMuslims by the Burmese government qualify as allowing ethnic groups in Burma a free politicalgenocide. Crimes against humanity are being sphere. Otherwise, basic rights of Arakanese refugeesperpetrated in Arakan. The UN and international in different countries, particularly in Bangladesh, and Muslims in Arakan will continue to be threatened.human rights organization should call on theBurmese government to end pressure on Muslims. Muslim Rohingya, who are regarded as foreigners
20 ARAKAN REPORTin their own land as per the 1982 Citizenship Law the suffering of Muslims in Arakan and Arakaneseand issued different identification cards as the most inhabitants living as refugees or illegal migrants instriking proof of discrimination, should be reinstated various countries, particularly in Bangladesh.as citizens of Burma. Forced displacement of Muslims International community must immediately putfrom their villages to be replaced with Buddhists and an end to ongoing oppression in Burma. Countriesforced labor should be ended. should suspend economic relations with Burma untilEconomic, political and military relations of the this objective has been achieved.Burmese government should be put under the Steps should be taken to stop privileges to exploit thespotlight and necessary measures should be taken country’s natural resources, especially gemstonesto cut resources feeding oppressive policies of the reserves, being used for political means.government. Islamic countries must end silence against theAlthough the pressure international community persecution of Arakanese Muslims and make theirhas put on Burma is not independent of its strategic reaction felt. Islamic scholars should lead the Musliminterests, replacing the Burmese junta with a more community in this regard and issue statements thatpro-liberty government will relieve to some extent remind Muslims their responsibilities against ongoing persecution of Arakanese Muslims. Turkey should take initiatives at different platforms to stop oppression of Arakanese Muslims. It should be guaranteed that international aid agencies have access to Arakan and refugee camps outside Arakan to deliver assistance. The area inside Burmese borders should be opened to human rights organizations and international observers. Buddhists around the world should act to help end oppression in Burma. Putting an end to human rights violations mentioned above and those committed during recent incidents, and punishing perpetrators is the responsibility of international community.