Views: 220

Maungdaw, Sept. 28 — Authorities in Arakan state take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown to persecute remaining Rohingya and add to their suffering by harassing them under the pretext of enforcing preventive measures, while the armed conflicts between AA and the Bama Army have already torn the region and the people are yet to recover from the aftermaths of 2017 cleansing operation.

Accusing of offending preventive rules, local Rohingyas are extorted money form, arrested, and physically assaulted by the authorities. Though the people follow the rules, the authorities find for a pretext to fine them like accusing them of improper use of face mask or use of old mask, etc. Even the people with essential needs are targeted indiscriminately.

For example, on 3rd September, 70 thousand kyats extorted from a minor boy aged 17 years from Southern Quarter and the next day, 20 thousand kyats extorted from a man from the same quarter. (Victims are not identified for security reason.) Though the authorities allowed a person from each family to go out for essential needs during the MCO period, they have seized tens of different types of vehicles from Rohingya and illegally fined many others.

At the same time, the authorities allow those businesses to operate and individuals to move normally, which are linked to them.

The police officer Aung Myint Htay is in the frontline to persecute the Rohingya. “While patrolling in the downtown, when he saw a bar for alcoholic drinks being operated normally during the lockdown, he said ‘it’s owned by our people’,” said RVision correspondent quoting one of Htay’s close contact.

Emergency Food Appeal

Due to the armed conflicts, the outbreak of coronavirus, and authorities’ harassments, local people who are mostly daily-wage workers, farmers, and fishermen can’t go to work, and small businesses that a small portion of people are engaged in are stopped. In result, the Rohingya in the homeland are suffering from acute hunger, because they have no other store than their stomach. Additionally, the poor transportatin and communitaion, and the rorality of the region are always contributing factors in worsening the situation.

A person from the ground told, “Nowadays many Rohingya face seriously daily foods crisis due to the armed conflict and Covid-19 restrictions. Almost no organization can access to work area in Arakan and all staff are under lockdown now. All the shops and Markets totally closed except for one hour a day.” adding “Pease try to find out any sources to help them as food packages. This’s emergency food appeal from you and your organization.”

The source also explained his observation about the NGOs, even they work, and how they are restricted from working freely in the Muslim area, “Concerning aid delivery, what aid they deliver, the amount and location in Rakhine is determined by the Coordination Committee headed by the Security minister who is military and takes his orders from NPT. Organisations have to submit a travel request to their line ministry which specifies the activity, personnel, dates etc. If approved it then goes to the Coordination Committee and finally the Security minister for approval. A travel authorisation is then issued that gives the specifics of the travel and activities which has to be followed.”

People are more concerned about the food than the pandemic. “We are about to die of hunger if not of the plague.” said a villager from Kyauk Yant of Buthidaung to RVision.