Thursday, March 15, 2012

52 - No Change in Burma and in Human Rights Situation of Rohingya

No Change in Burma and in Human
Rights Situation of Rohingya
Through a fake general election held in November
10, 2010, a civilianized military dictatorship has now come
to rule Burma amidst general disappointment.
Opposing its legitimacy, the international community
forecast more atrocious crimes and human rights
violations are to continue in Burma. Evidently crimes
against humanity of various kinds are perpetrated in the
ethnic areas, especially creating a terrible situation in the
Rohingya homeland of northern Arakan.
No changes have been sensed in the treatment of the
Rohingya people by the authorities. The oppressive system
of the Nasaka border security force and other repressive
functionaries is still in place, with their acts of violence
being committed in manifold with out let or hindrance. The
Nasaka sector commanders are acting like uncrown kings.
Even its ordinary soldiers have amassed monies and
properties beyond mind's eye, mainly through planned extortion
of the Rohingya people under false and imaginary
charges. Crimes against humanity of rape,
murder, looting and destruction are a regular phenomenon
all over North Arakan. It is a mockery of the new regime to
claim any improvement in the human rights situation in
North Arakan, where the Nasaka, army, police and
government servants are not answerable to the law and
constitution for their acts against the Rohingyas. Some of
the Nasaka forces openly say, “We do not treat you as cruel
as we are instructed to do. We are ordered to create hellish
atmosphere to starve you, to humiliate you and drive you
out of the country.” The psychology of inducing terror is the
other parts of the Nasaka plan against the Rohingya in
order to force them flee their homeland.
Nasaka is largely believed as a gang of monsters
specially created to ethnically cleanse the Rohingyas from
Arakan. They interfere with anything even with the
judiciary. Cases can not be decided without reference to
the Chief of the Nasaka violating the norms of the
Nowadays the officials of the judiciary department
express their displeasure particularly over the Nasaka’s
undue interference in the judicial proceedings. Cont. P. 3
From P. 2 In this connection, mention may be made of the concocted case farmed against the Rohingya
villagers of Kamonseik in Maundaw Township where, for the purpose of extortion, the Nasaka blatantly
accused the innocent villagers of having link with insurgents/Taliban. After massive extortion, the
Nasaka Director confessed that such allegation was unsubstantiated. Thus the actions of Nasaka become
a daily teashop gossip in North Arakan, among the public servants as well as common people, as tales of
woe upon woe. Many believe that there would be no breathing space for them until the Nasaka apparatus is
dismantled. Naturally the people want the independence of judiciary and improvement in their human right
It was Gen. Ne Win who first introduced dictatorship since 1962 military take over in Burma. He suspended
the Constitution, Habeas Corpus and similar writs. Contrary to the four essential qualities of judges
that the Socrates described – “to hear courteously to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially''
– the judges in Burma have to decide according to the order of authorities.
Burma is notorious for its obscure and unjust laws and for the arbitrary manner in which they are applied.
In its attempts to lend itself legitimacy and to keep the democratic opposition under control, the junta
makes use of a multitude of laws, orders and decrees, many of which are new and of which the legality is
dubious, often being in conflict with both international and national law. Laws used most often to deal with
political opponents and other critics include the Emergency Provisions Act, the State protection Law, the
Unlawful Associations Act and the public Order Act.
Following the wave of arrests of May 1996, the junta also passed a law that makes drafting a new
constitution illegal to anyone but the National convention. The aim is to disallow NLD to draft a constitution
though NLD has 382 law makers. This law makes voicing one’s political opinion in public punishable by 20
years in prison. It is illegal to criticize the military. Detainees are denied to fair trial. There is no independent
judiciary and a complete lack of government accountability.
Thus Aung San Suu Kyi said that no “meaningful change" has taken place since Burma’s elections in
20 years. The army hierarchy retains a firm grip on power. "Until political prisoners have been released, and
until we are all allowed to take part in the political process in the country, I do not think we can call it real
change," Suu Kyi told DW-TV. She also said that by giving Burma the chair of the Association of the Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014, would not help democracy in Burma in any way. ##
Burma and China plan to build a railroad
together that will link China's landlocked Yunnan
Province to a deep-sea port being built in Burma’s
Arakan state. The state-run New Light of Myanmar
newspaper reported on Thursday that the project will
start with a 126-km rail link between Muse, on the
Sino-Burmese border, and Lashio in Burma’s northeastern
Shan State.
That first phase is expected to be built in three
years. The completed railroad will extend to a port
China is building in Burma’s Kyaukphyu town in
northwestern Arakan. The China National Petroleum
Corporation already is building a 770-km pipeline
from Arakan to Yunnan. The newspaper said the
memorandum of understanding was signed on
Wednesday in the capital Naypyidaw. Published on
Friday, Apr. 29, 2011, Irrawaddy on Line ##
Burma and Bangladesh have agreed to improve
bilateral relations and mutual cooperation, including
military collaboration, said a report by the Narinjara
news agency. Burma's Air Force Chief Lt-Gen Myat
Hein met with Bangladeshi President Zillur Rahman
on May 5 while in the country for a six-day visit.
Narinjara said it was the first time a highranking
Burmese official has visited Bangladesh since
a maritime dispute broke out in 2008. Myat Hein said
he would like Burmese forces to undergo training in
Bangladesh in the future.
Also Talks are going on with neighbouring Myanmar
to import gas for meeting the growing demand,
Bangladesh PM’s adviser Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury
said on May 5. He also indicated that the much
talked about proposal of tri-nation - Myanmar - Bangladesh
—India - gas pipeline project might be
revived. ## I
The Rohingya ethnic minority of
Burma are trapped between severe
repression in their homeland and
abuse in neighboring countries. Bangladesh
has hosted hundreds of thousands
of Rohingyas f l eeing
persecution for more than three
decades, but at least 200,000 Rohingya
refugees have no legal rights there.
They live in squalor, receive very limited
aid and are subject to arrest, extortion
and detention. Unregistered
refugee women and girls are particularly
vulnerable to sexual and
physical attacks. The international
community must urge the
Bangladeshi government to register
undocumented refugees and improve
protection for all vulnerable Rohingyas.
Donor governments must also work to
restart and increase resettlement of
refugees to a third country and increase
assistance for communities
hosting refugees.
The Rohingya ethnic minority
of Burma is one of the most persecuted
groups in the world. Stripped of their
citizenship by the Burmese government
in 1982 and forced to flee through
violent military campaigns and
sustained persecution, over one million
Rohingyas now live in exile in Bangladesh,
Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Inside Burma, approximately
800,000 Rohingyas live in three townships
in Northern Rakhine State, a
densely populated region and the poorest
part of an already impoverished
country. Rohingya children are three
times more likely to die before their
fifth birthday than other children in
Burma and malnutrition rates frequently
exceed emergency levels. The
World Food Program reported that the
food security in the region has worsened
over the past two years, with twothirds
of the population hungry.
The Rohingya in Northern Rakhine
State are subject to particularly severe
violations of their human rights, including
systematic violence and border
military, known as the NaSaKa. The
1982 citizenship law left them stateless
and rendered them illegal migrants in
their own country. They are the only
ethnic group in Burma restricted from
marriage, traveling beyond their
or building or maintaining religious
structures. In addition, they are
subject to frequent forced labor,
arbitrary taxationvillage , sexual
violence and land confiscations by
the NaSaKa.
Family lists, the basic registration
system in Burma, include the names
of all residents of each household.
For Rohingyas, the lists also include
a tally of livestock, and are checked
by the NaSaKa on a regular basis. If a
resident is not present during a
family list check, their name is struck
off and the resident is not allowed to
return unless an exorbitant tax is
paid. Rohingyas in Bangladesh told
Refugees International (RI) that even
if they could survive in their homeland,
they could not sleep at night
due to the deep-seated fear of arrest
and abuse by the NaSaKa.
Violent Burmese military campaigns
have been waged against the
Rohingya leading to mass influxes
into eastern Bangladesh in 1978 and
1991-1992, the vast majority of whom
were forcibly repatriated. Today,
only 28,000 are recognized Cont. P. 5
From P. 4 as refugees with the Government
of Bangladesh and live in
Kutupalong and Nayapara camps. Registered
refugees receive basic health
services, primary education and food
rations but about 5,000 of the camp
residents were not properly registered
and are barred from receiving food rations.
At least 200,000 Rohingyas,
which include new arrivals and those
who had returned after being repatriated,
live in unofficial refugee settlements
and local villages, mainly in
Cox’s Bazar district. The Government
only allows the UN Refugee Agency
(UNHCR) and NGOs to work with refugees
living in the official camps and
even lifesaving activities targeting unregistered
refugees are not authorized.
Develop a Refugee Policy Based
on Tolerance
The central government has conducted
a review of its policy on Rohingya
refugees in the past year, but the
cabinet has repeatedly delayed its
finalization. Pending this finalization,
the Government of Bangladesh has
increased restrictions on aid agencies
and centralized all decision-making
pertaining to both the registered and
unregistered refugees at the Dhakalevel,
significantly delaying aid operations.
Despite reports of global acute
malnutrition rates of 30% in Kutupalong
makeshift camp, which is double
the emergency threshold, the
Government has denied permits for
aid agencies to assist unregistered
refugees and host communities. Shelters
are falling apart and are unlikely to
resist the upcoming monsoons. In the
official camps, government officials
abruptly halted refugee resettlement
and have closed all income-generating
activities Including small shops and
tailoring, stating that skills were provided
to only help refugees upon their
return to Burma.
Enhancing the protection and
self-sufficiency of all refugees would
improve Bangladesh’s internal
security and rule of law, in addition to
its record on refugee rights. Keeping
hundreds of thousands of people
undocumented limits adequate
government oversight of activities on
its territory and creates an environment
permissive to criminality, including
trafficking, corruption and exploitation.
Furthermore, a new comprehensive
aid package for Cox’s Bazar,
would help the district meet the Millennium
Development Goals, which is
unlikely to occur on its current track.
Providing refugees with the right to
work would reduce tensions over job
competition, stabilize local wages and
ensure that Bangladesh workers are
not put at a disadvantage.
Register the Unprotected
The Government of Bangladesh
should work closely with
UNHCR to establish a system to
register vulnerable and undocumented
refugees in order to provide
urgent humanitarian aid protection
against arrest and deportation and
ensure access to justice. There are
an estimated 200,000 to 500,000
unregistered Rohingyas living in
Bangladesh. While some Rohingyas
have been able to gain legal status
or integrate into local communities,
which share the same language,
customs and religion, a significant
number have no documentation and
are subject to arrest, detention and
a litany of abuses, including rape,
starvation and indefinite detention
and no recourse to justice when
they suffer physical or sexual assaults.
Refugees are often arrested
while collecting firewood in the
nearby national forest or while
working. If they are unable to pay a
bribe or obtain a guarantee from a
Bangladesh national for their immediate
release, refugees are often
charged with illegal entry and sent
to jail. Refugees told RI that a bribe
between $110 to $400 is required for
release, forcing Cont. P. 6
From P. 5 many families into heavy
debt. One man interviewed by RI for his
family to pay a $300 bribe. Over 300
Rohingyas are estimated to be in severely
overcrowded conditions in
Cox’s Bazar jail, which houses about
3,000 prisoners in a space meant for
800. Fifty-eight Rohingyas in jail have
completed their sentence, some more
than a decade ago, but they have no
family or relatives to pay a bribe and
the Burmese authorities refuse to allow
them back in Burma, leaving them in
indefinite detention.
The 2008 national elections have
exacerbated the vulnerability of unregistered
Rohingyas. During the voter
registration drive, thousands of undocumented
Rohingyas were evicted
from the villages where they had been
living, often for more than a decade.
They were driven to the precarious hillsides
surrounding the Kutupalong official
camp where they set up crude
shelters and have since been struggling
to survive. In 2009 and 2010, the
government launched brutal crackdowns
on Rohingyas in Bandarban
and Cox’s Bazar districts and the population
of the Kutupalong makeshift
camp peaked from 4,000 in 2008 to
over 34,000 refugees in early 2010 -
outnumbering those in the official
camp. UNCHR was denied access and
no aid agencies were officially permitted
to provide assistance. Refugees
feared leaving the camps to find jobs
or food due to the intense campaign of
arrests and violence, resulting in
alarming malnutrition rates.
The upcoming roll-out of national ID
cards may exacerbate the exclusion of
unregistered refugees by further
depriving them of access to jobs and
services, making the registration of all
refugees even more urgent. Since the
voter registration drive, unregistered
Rohingya children can no longer attend
government schools due to
requirements to show documentation
of both parents and children. Contrary
to its obligations under the Convention
on the Rights of the Child, the Government
of Bangladesh does not register
Rohingya children born on its territory
unless both parents can prove Bangladeshi
nationality. This perpetuates
Rohingyas’ statelessness and lack of
identity. Aid agencies also report
increasing pressure from local authorities
to ensure that aid beneficiaries
present identification to access nutrition
programs and micro-credit
schemes. Job opportunities could also
become restricted to ID card holders.
Increase Security for Women and
Girls in the Camps
Without any legal rights for unregistered
refugee women, a climate of
fear and impunity pervades the
unofficial settlements reinforced by
the lack of accountability and oversight.
Since last year’s crackdown,
reports of sexual violence against
unregistered refugees have
increased, yet services remain at a
bare minimum.
The registration of refugees
should guarantee access to justice
an humanitarian assistance, so that
sexual and gender-based violence
(SGBV) can be adequately prevented
and addressed. Despite existing
obstacles to addressing SGBV in
Bangladesh, UNHCR has been able
to make progress with registered
refugees by raising awareness,
increasing women’s leadership roles
and supporting legal cases. Nonetheless,
UNHCR staff say their efforts
are “only the tip of the iceberg” given
the scale of abuses. For unregistered
refugees, these crimes remain
invisible yet the deep mental and
social trauma on survivors and their
communities remain untreated
Sexual violence, early and forced
marriages and domestic violence are
endemic in both the host and refugee
communities, but the stressful living
conditions and the lack of access to
the police or justice system and
stressful living conditions Cont. P. 7
From P. 6 for refugee women increase
the risk of abuses. There are a
high number of widows and womenheaded
households among Rohingya
communities – estimated as high as
44% in Kutupalong makeshift camp –
due to frequent arrests and work
migration of male family members.
Without a breadwinner, many women
are forced to engage in begging and
sex work and children are sometimes
trafficked for domestic work in order to
survive. Women are often reluctant to
report sexual violence and need
permission from their husband and
local leaders to seek healthcare in the
conservative, male dominated
society, which also severely limits the
ability to provide much-needed support
and raise awareness.
Donor governments and UNHCR
should work with local authorities to
increase refugee participation in the
security patrols, organize protection
for women collecting firewood and water
and improve the safety of latrine
areas to prevent sexual violence
against women. Residents from
Kutupalong and Leda unofficial sites
told RI that there is no security and
women are frequently attacked and
raped when they go to latrines or to the
forest to collect firewood. Kutupalong
makeshift camp has no formal security
arrangement. Leda site is patrolled
by local Bangladeshi volunteers and
border forces organized by an NGO,
but they do little to protect refugees
against a network of powerful locals.
One refugee woman said, “We never
feel safe. The villagers come in whenever
they want and they do whatever
they want.” RI was told that refugees
are routinely charged by locals at the
gate for leaving the camp and are often
robbed when they return.
Government restrictions on aid
projects targeting unregistered refugees
and host communities should be
immediately lifted to reduce local resentment
of refugees. In 2008, RI noted
tensions between the impoverished
local communities and the refugees in
Leda over scarce water and fuel resources
and now the situation is spiraling
downward. During RI’s March visit,
no water was available for one week
because of threats by a powerful local
against those responsible for trucking
it in. Primarily women and children
were forced to collect water from wells
in nearby villages but faced regular
attacks, including rape, from locals.
Three women interviewed by RI were
attacked by a villager with a stick that
morning and their families had to go
without water. One woman said,
“Anywhere is better for us. Even the
fire, the sea or desert. It’s better even
to kill us,” a sentiment echoed by other
To mitigate SGBV against registered
refugee women, UNHCR
should urge the Government to
switch to individual ration cards, as
the current system disadvantages
women. The current family-based
ration cards are usually in the name
and control of the male head of
household, making it difficult for
women to separate from abusive
husbands without losing their
ration. Furthermore, UNHCR should
urgently address its frequent fuel
pipeline breaks, which place
refugees, particularly women and
girls, in danger of arrests, rapes and
attacks as they are forced to collect
firewood outside the camp. Expansion
of sustainable sources, like biogas,
and improved budget
planning by UNHCR would help
avoid the cuts to fuel rations.
Increase Aid for Communities
Hosting Refugees
Communities hosting refugees
are long overdue for increased
development aid. Cox’s Bazar,
bordering Burma and hosting the
bulk of refugees, is one of the
poorest districts in Bangladesh and
is in economic decline, at an annual
rate of 3%. Cont. P. 8 I
From P. 7 The socio-economic
indicators of local residents are wellbelow
the national averages and only
marginally better than refugees. These
factors led five UN agencies to develop
the Joint initiative for Cox’s Bazar, a
two-year, $33 million development plan
to strengthen education, health, livelihood
and governance programs, but it
failed to gain the Government’s approval.
Government officials said that
the improving conditions in Bangladesh
would create pull factors for
Rohingyas in Burma and instead, the
program should be implemented in
other poor districts.
While the rejection of the Joint
Initiative is deeply disappointing for
both aid agencies and local Bangladeshis,
donor governments should
continue to leverage their aid efforts
and increase aid to Cox’s Bazar. They
should urge the Government of Bangladesh
to ensure national programs
operate on a non-discriminatory basis
and allow joint projects for both
unregistered refugees and host communities.
Such joint programs were
promoted in the past year on a smallscale
and have reduced tensions with
locals. If expanded, these initiatives
could help Cox’s Bazar indicators
catch up with the rest of the country to
the meet the Millennium Development
Goals. One villager said, “We are poor
and they are poor. It’s better if NGOs
help us all.” Such a program would
also recognize the generosity of impoverished
host communities over the
past three decades.
Improve Conditions in the
Official Refugee Camps
In order to better support
Rohingyas in the two official
refugee camps, donor governments
should increase funding for
food and expand resettlement
and education programs. First,
donor governments must immediately
mobilize $2 million for
the World Food Program (WFP)
to avoid a humanitarian
crisis. The U.S. and Canadian
governments have already contributed
cash and in-kind aid
but without additional funds,
the food pipeline could break in
May. The funding gap has
forced WFP to cut rations,
which no longer meet the daily
nutritional needs. The current
global acute malnutrition rate of
14.6.% in the official camps is
almost at the emergency
threshold - just months before
the beginning of situation is
With restrictions to livelihood activities
and frequent sharing of rations with
unregistered refugees in the makeshift
camp, traditional coping mechanisms
have already been degraded.
In February, 2011 the Government
of Bangladesh reques-ted large-scale
resettlement of 28,000 registered
refugees from the official camps and
this should move forward. First and
foremost, the Government must lift its
hold on resettlement processing
imposed in October 2010 in order for
resettlement countries to seriously
consider the request. The U.S. government
launched a successful resettlement
program for more than 90,000
Burmese refugees from Thailand and
Malaysia, but less than 100
Rohingyas have been resettled from
Bangladesh. The U.S. government
should work with other resettlement
countries – such as Canada, the UK,
Australia, Sweden and Norway – to
accept more Rohingya refugees, while
finding durable solutions with
Bangladesh for those who do not want
or are unable to resettle.
In addition, the Government of
Bangladesh and UNHCR should
expand secondary education
programs, as previously agreed, to
provide opportunities and hope for the
large number of children in the camp.
UNICEF only focuses on primary
education and is expected to withdraw
from the camp next year. UNHCR
should be funded to bring in a new
partner, strengthen the education program
and expand secondary education
Policy Recommendations
● Key donor governments, particularly
Australia, Canada, the U.S. and
the UK, should work with the Bangladeshi
government and UNHCR to register
undocumented Rohingya refugees
in order to strengthen protection
and humanitarian assistance and reduce
sexual and gender-based violence.
● Key donor governments should
develop a large-scale, needs-based
assistance program to assist impoverished
local communities hosting Rohingya
• The U.S government, together with
other recipient countries should initiate
large-scale resettlement programs for
registered Rohingya refugees.
● Donor governments should
rapidly mobilize $2 million to meet the
World Food Program’s funding gap to
ensure the provision of full food
rations in the official refugee camps
this year. ##
Lynn Yoshikawa and Melanie Teff
assessed the plight of Rohingya
refugees in Bangladesh in March
2011. Source
Burmese opposition leader
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a
video address to an awards ceremony
hosted by the US-based Feminist
Majority Foundation at the Beverly
Hills Hotel in Los Angeles on
April 26, 2011.
Daw Suu Kyi was one of four
winners of the group's Global
Women's Rights Award, which honors
those who work tirelessly for the
rights of women. The other recipients
were Haitian feminist Yolette Jeanty,
American journalist Renee Montagne,
who has reported extensively
on the situation of women in Afghanistan,
and Sunita Viswanath, the
founder of Women for Afghan
Women. Published on Friday,
Apr,29,2011, Irrawaddy on Line. ##
Daw Suu Kyi Receives Award from
Feminist Majority Foundation
Cont. P. 10
In the March 2011 issue of
ARAKAN, we have given accounts of
the Muslim Prime ministers, Defence
ministers and ministers of Arakan in
16th – 17th centuries. They were not
only the ministers; some of them were
Prime ministers, army commanders,
judges and some were saints and
religious priests. They had vast
influence in the country and court of
the kings of Arakan. The Arakanese
king reposed great confidence in them.
The ministers and high officers were
learned men, who patronised learning
and Muslim poets and writers. The
poets wrote in Bengali, a good number
of their poems have been discovered.
Their writings prove that those who
assembled in the court of ministers
were all Bengali specking people, or in
other words many of them entered into
Arakan from the neighbouring country
of Bengal. Chittagong is adjacent to
Arakan, and for some time Chittagong
was under the Arakanese kings. So it
may be presumed that most of the
Bengali speaking people of Arakan
went there from Chittagong. They
could not forget their own language
and that is why Bengali language and
literature prospered in Arakan. This is
the secret of the culture of Bengali
language and literature in Arakan,
where the Arakanese had their own
language, but their language and
literature did not develop. In this
chapter we propose to give an account
of the poets and their writings: the
poets were not only Bengalees, but so
far as known, they were mostly from
Abdul Karim Sahitya-Vishared
should be given credit for collecting
hundreds of puthis from different part
of Chittagong. He also collected
Bengali manuscripts written by Bengali
poets living in Arakan. He and Dr.
Muhammad Enamul Huq together
wrote a book entitled Arakan Rajsabhaya
Bangala Sahitya giving accounts
of their books and the subject matter
discussed in those books. They
thought that the poets adorned the
court of the Arakanese kings, and so
their book was entitled Bengali
literature in Arakanese court. But actually
it was not so, some of poets were
in the service of the government, but
they were patronised by the Muslim
ministers and the poets adorned the
court of the minister. There were also
some poets, who live in Arakan, but
was neither in the government service
nor did they receive patronage from the
The earliest known Muslim poet in
Arakan was Poet Daulat Qazi or Qazi
Daulat. He was probably holding the
post of Qazi, or a judge but he wrote
his book by order of Lashkar Wazir
Ashraf Khan. The poet also refers to
the name of the reigning king of Arakan
Thiri Thudamma. His book was entitled
Satimaina Lor Chandrani. The poet
says as follows about how he was influenced
to write the book:1
“ Sriyut Ashraf Khan was a great mini
s t e r , h e wa s l i ke a ful l
moon…….Sitting in the assembly, he
expressed his willingness to hear tales.
There were many stories in Arabic and
Persian, Gujarati, Gohari and Teth
(Gohari and Teth were local languages
used in Gohar area bordering West
Bengal).He was willing to hear the
story of Lorak and Mai-nar Bharati
(Satimaina Lor Chandrani)........The
poet Sadhan told the story in Teth Gohari,
but these languages are not understood
by many people. So wanted
that the book should be composed in
Panchali, Qazi Daulat felt the intention
of the minister and composed Mainar
Bharati in Bengali.” (Translation of the
1. Karim, Abdul (Sahityavisharad } &
Huq, Dr. Md. Enamul : Arakan Rajsabhaya
Bangla Sahitya, Calcutta, 1935, P. 14.
Satimaina was a ballad composed
and sung by local bards in Bhojpur
area bordering ancient and medieval
Bengal. There were such other
ballads, which were very popular and
entered into East Bengal including
Chittagong, and crossed over to
Arakan. Two famous compositions
were Mulla Daud’s Chandain and
Sadhan’s Mainasat. When these
ballads were sung in the court of
Lashkar Wazir Ashraf Khan, he took
interest in the poem and asked Qazi
Daulat to write the book in Bengali.
So Qazi Daulat’s work was a translation
but it was a free translation and
thus the poetic talent of the poet was
The story in brief was as follows:
Lor, the king of Gohari married a
beautiful princess name Maina or
Mainabati. They were living a happy
life, when once a yogi showed Lor a
picture of another very beautiful lady
Chandrani, the princess of Mohari.
Chandrani was also married, but her
husband was a short fellow and an
impotent person, Lor went to Mohari,
and began meeting Chandrani in private,
but when their illicit connection
was known, Chandrani’s husband
fought against Lor. but was killed.
Lor then married Chandrani. In the
meantime, in his own kingdom at Gohari,
his first wife Maina was living in
anguish and sorrow due to his separation,
and another person named
Saton tried to win over Maina, but
failed. Maina remained faithful to her
husband Lor. Later Lor came back
with Chandrani to his kingdom and
joined Maina, thereafter all lived in
Qazi Daulat could not complete
his work Saimaina Lor Chandrani;
before completion he died and later
Alaol completed the work at the
request of another Muslim minister
Srimanta Sulaiman about 1659 A.D.
i.e. about 20 years after the death of
Qazi Daulat. 2
The poet Shah Alaol was the
most prominent of all the poets of
Roshang, in fact he was one of the
2. Ibid., pp. 13-14. Cont. P. 10
World Renowned Historian Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim, M.A. Ph.D. ( Dhaka ), Ph.D. ( London ), FASB.
From P. 9 greatest Bengali
poets of the 17th century, some
scholars say that he was Rabindranath
Thakur of the 17th
From his own testimony,
it is known that he was the son
of a minister of Majlis Qutb of
Fathabad in Bengal. He along
with his father was going by
boat, on the way they were met
by Firingi pirates. Both the parties
fought for some time, the
father died a martyr, but the
son, i.e. Alaol was made a captive
and was taken to Roshang.
Probably he was sold to the
king of Arakan. First he was
appointed a horseman in the
army. While he was passing his
days like this, he chanced to
come across the Muslim ministers
and high officials of the
kingdom. Alaol was a learned
man, he knew various languages,
Bengali, Arabic, Persian,
Hindi and Sanskrit and he was
acquainted with famous literary works
of those languages. He was also wellversed
in vocal and instrumental music.
When the ministers and other
high officers came to know of his various
qualities, they appointed him to
teach their children and in this way he
became well known to the learned and
court circle. He was invited to attend
the assemblies in the houses of ministers
including the Prime Ministers.
Magan Thakur, a leading Muslim of
Roshang, who was minister and later
Prime Minister under several kings
took interest in him and patronised
him in various ways. After Magan’s
death, other ministers and Prime Ministers
also patronised him. In this way,
Shah Alaol was in the limelight of Arakan
social and literary circle for
thirty years as a leading figure in the
kingdom of Arakan.
With the patronage received from
the ministers, Alaol wrote six books
(1) Padmavati (2) Saiful Mulk Badiujjamal
(3) Haft Paikar (or Sapta Paikar)
(4) Thufa (5) Sikandarnama and (6)
Last part of Satimaina Lor Chandrani.
It may be mentioned that all these
were poetical Bengali translations of
books of the same name in other
languages and written by great and
renowned poets. But the translation
was not literal but free, and Alaol
maintained his poetical talents in all
these books throughout. At times he
became free from the text and his
knowledge in various subjects have
been very appropriately exposed. Dr.
Muhammad Shahidullah writes in his
praise as follows:3 “Alaol’s name
stands very high among Bengali poets
in the medieval period. He was a
good scholar inSanskrit, Bengali,
Arabic, Persian and Hindi languages.
In fact it may be said in great confidence
that there was no poet in those
days who was equal to this Muslim
poet.” (Translation of the Text)
Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sen also praises
him in the following words: 4 “In the
Padmavati, there is mark of profound
scholarship of Alaol. The poet examined
the nature of ‘magan’ ragan’ etc.
eight ‘mahaganas’. He discussed in
details the quarrels and separation of
ten conditions of eight heroines like
Khandita, Bashakshajja and Kalhantarita;
he discussed the truths about
Ayurvedic medical science; he
discussed the good and evil of timing
of journeys like ‘Lagnacharya’ of astronomical
science; he explained
‘Yoginitantra’; he explained the
abstruse rites followed in the Hindu
marriages like an old Hindu married
woman (whose husband is alive); he
has supplied a correct list of praises
and hymns uttered by Purohits.
Besides he inserted Sanskrit and
verses at the head of chapters like the
Pandits of tools (Sanskrit and vernacular
schools).” (Translation of the
Abdul Karim Sahitya Visharad
discovered his manuscripts, brought
the poet and his books from oblivion
into the limelight of history by writing
more than fifty articles in various Bengali
journals. Before him some of
Alaol’s books were published from
Battala in Calcutta but these were not
scientifically edited and so are not
dependable for scholarly discussion.
Abdul Karim Sahitya Visharad also
edited the famous Padmavati of Alaol
and Alaol was his most favorite poet.
So his evaluation of Alaol is worth
quoting: 5 “The great poet Alaol was
genius in the Muslim society of Bengal.
Apart from Daulat Qazi, the author
of Satimaina, no second man like him
in scholarship was born in this
3. Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah: Bangla
Sahityer Katha, 2nd part, Dhaka 1371
B.S., p. 133.
4. D. C.Sen : Bangla Bhasha O Sahitya,
8th edition, p. 321.
5. Karim, Abdul (Sahityavisharad } &
Huq, Dr. Md. Enamul : Arakan
Rajsab haya Bangla Sahitya,
Calcutta, 1935, P. 44.
The statement is not an exaggeration.
He is shining as the mid-day
sun in Medieval Bengali literature.
The whole Bengali literature has been
illuminated by the light of his genius.
On the one hand, he is seated on the
golden throne of the great poets
among the Muslims; on the other
hand, among the contemporary Hindu
poets also his position is very high.
As he was well versed in Bengali and
Sanskrit languages, so he was wellversed
in Arabic and Persian languages.
As he was a versatile genius
in Hindu religion and literature so he
was a great scholar in Muslim religion
and Persian literature. Such erudition
is not found in other Muslim poets. He
was born ) with poetic genius of very
high standard.” ( Translation of the
Text )
The first book written by Shah Alaol
was the Padmavati. It was originally
written by Malik Muhammad Jaisi in
Hindi, he started writing the book in
923 A.H./ 1520 A.D and he completed
it in 1540 A.D in the reign of Sher
Shah. Jaisi probably died in 1542 A.D.
i.e. two years after completing the
book. The story centred round Raja
Ratna Sen of Chitore, the famous
beautiful lady Padmini, the princess of
Ceylon and King Alauddin Khalji of
Delhi. Raja Ratna Sen was leading a
happy life with his queen Nagmati, but
one day he heard about the beauty of
Padmini. The king went to Ceylon with
his retinue in the guise of a Yogi, on
the way he underwent inhuman sufferings,
but at the end he was able to
marry Padmini and lived there happily.
Nagmati, on the other hand, was
passing her days in grief at Chitore in
the absence of the king Ratna Sen.
Ratna Sen later came back to his capital
and lived with the two queens,
Nagmati and Padmini. Ratna Sen once
turned out one of his courtiers
Raghav Cehtan from his Court, the
later went to Dehli, met Sultan Alauddin
Khalji, and related to him the
story of the beauty of Padmini. The
Sultan attacked Chitore to Padmini,
but in the meantime king Ratna Sen
had died and the two queens, Nagmati
and Padmini gave their life in the pyre
of their husband. Alauddin came back
without achieving anything. This is in
short the story of Padmavati. We have
said above that Shah Alaol composed
the poem Padmavati by order of Prime
Minister Magan Thakur of Arakan in
1651 A.D. Cont. P. 11
From P. 10
After completing the composition
of Padmavati, Prime Minister
Magan Thakur ordered
Alaol to write Saiful Mulk Badiujjamal.
Shah Alaol began writing
this book, before completing it
Magan Thakur died and so the
composition of the book was
left incomplete. After about a
decade Sayyid Musa, another
Prime Minister of Roshang
requested Alaol to complete the
book and the poet did so. This
is a legendary tale in which
there is love story of man and
fairy. The story is found in the
Arabic Nights, Alaol probably
got the story from a Persian
book. Saiful Mulk was the son
of king Sifuan of Egypt and
Badiujjamal was the princess of
Shapal, king of the fairy land
Iran-Bostan. The prince along with his
friend Sayyid, the son of Wazir, went
to the fairyland and after great hardship
met the lady of his love and ultimately
married. His friend Sayyid also
married the princess of Sarandeep.
Alaol completed composing Saiful
Mulk Badiujjamal during 1669 – 70
This is the third book written by
Shah Alaol. The book was originally
written in Persian by the great Persian
poet Nizami Ganjabi. There are seven
stories, which have found place in this
book. King Numan of Ajam had a son
named Bahram, according to the advice
of the astrologers, the king sent
his son to live in Yemen. An artist
named Samna built for the prince
seven towers in the palace; each
tower was of different type and colour.
In his absence the king died and the
Wazir occupied the throne. The prince
however returned and defeating the
Wazir got back his throne. Thereafter
he conquered seven neighbouring
kingdoms and married seven princesses
of those kingdoms. He allowed
each of the princesses to live in each
of the seven towers he had built earlier.
When Bahram went to live with
the princesses in the tower, he asked
each of them to tell a story to please
him. In this way seven princesses related
seven stories which pleased the
king, the seven stories from the subject
matter of the book Haft
Paikar. The story began on Saturday
and ended on Friday, the first story
that of Saturday is the longest.
The stories are all interesting and
pleasing. Needless to say, the stories
were all educative and full of moral
principles. The chief aim of the stories
was to please the people. The book
was written in 1660 A.D
The book was originally written in
Persian by Shaikh Yusuf Gada in 795
A.H. / 1392-93 A.D. It is a book on religious
principles, and contains also
advice and admonition that are helpful
to lead a religious life of the Muslims.
In those days books were not easily
available, printing was not known,
learners and teachers had to copy
books for them. Shaikh Yusuf Gada
had a son named Abul Fath. Shaikh
Yusuf wrote this book to serve as a
guide to his son. So the book is not
properly a Fiqh. It contains religious
principles on the basic of Fiqh and
general moral principles that help regulating
an honest and religious life.
Alaol, in the preface, gives the subject
matter of the book in the following
words: 6
“(Yusuf Gada) had a son named
Abul Fath, the book Thufa was
written for him, whoever reads the
book will be benefited. There is fortyfive
Bab (chapters) written on Shariat,
Tariqat, Haqiqat, Tauhid, and Iman
according to Islamic religion. In Arabic
door is called Bab, and without door
one cannot enter the house. The book
Thufa is the house of Shariat, which
has forty-five doors. The book deals
with religious and worldly matters like
eating, drinking, cohabiting, and washing,
auspicious matters on houses,
works by which to go to heaven or hell
etc. It also deals with Namaz, Roza,
Zakat, Faraz (obligaory), Nafal
(optional), Wazu (ablution), Tayammum
(purification by dust), and all kinds of
bath. It also deals with questions to be
asked in the grave, acts for
removing the Sin, and moral principles.
These are not told out of imagination,
they are found in the Furqan (Quran)
and traditions of the Prophet, in books
on Fiqh like Hidaya, Kafiya etc. Yusuf
Gada composed the book in Persian
verse on the basis of Arabic
books.” (Translation of the Text)
The life of Muslim from birth to
grave is regulated by Shariat or
Islamic law and the sources of
Islamic law are the Quran, the Hadis
and Sunnat of the Prophet, Irma and
6. Sahitya Patrika, Winter, 1364, BS.
pp. 139-40.
Quays. Muslims jurists have jurists
have explained these sources from
time to time for the benefit of the
Muslims. Apart from obligatory baths
etc. matters like passing urine and
going to the privy, purification there
of, greetings among Muslim brethren,
going to one’s house and taking
proper permission from the owners
before entering, all these are guided
by Shariat or Islamic law. The subjects
have been discussed in fortyfive
Bab or chapters and these chapters
are as follows: 1) Tawhid
(oneness of Allah), (2) Iman (belief in
Allah and his Prophet, Angels, divine
Book, life in the next world, Taqdir,
and day of Judgement), (3) Question-
Answer in the grave, (4) Knowledge,
(5) Injunctions of Shariat about
Wazu, Ghusal, going to the privy and
purification thereof, (6) Ibadat, performing
namaz, (7) Payment of Zakat,
(8) Fasting in the month of Ramazan,
Shab-I-Qadr, (9) Musafir or way
farers, and how to go, when to go,
the auspicious days for travelling. In
this chapter Hajj and Ziarat of Madina
have also been discussed. (10) Recitation
of the Quran and dowa, (11)
Qasr, i.e. to offer Qasr prayer, this is
applied to Musafir, (12) Marriage, (13)
Cohabitation of husband and wife,
(14) Eating, (15) Drinking, (16) Wearing
dresses, (17) Sleeping, (18) Trading,
(19) Darveshi, (20) Good behaviour,
(21) Debt, (22) How to sit in majlis
or assembly, (23) Scandal mongering,
(24) Namaz, (25) Qaza Namaz,
(26) Patience, (27) Tauba or repentance,
(28) Miserliness, (29) Doing
good deeds, (30) Charity, (31) Order,
ordering to do good and prohibiting
from doing bad things, (32) Good
voice, (33) Games, (34) Hunting, (35)
What to do when first moon is
sighted, (36) Old age, to remain engaged
in prayers in old age (after
forty years), (37) Morning, (38)
Shahid, i.e. martyrdom, (39) Forty
type of good works, (40) Acquisition
of wealth, (41) Heaven, (42) Hell, (43)
Sunnat, (words and deeds of the
Prophet), (44) Murder, (45) Various
The subject matters discussed
above give an idea of the book. It is
not a literary work. It does not discuss
love affairs, nor does the book
deal with legendary tales. Such
books were rarely written in Bengali
in the medieval period, in fact, this is
the first book of its type. Later, however,
a few more such books dealing
with religious subjects were written,
such as Nasrullah Cont. P. 12
From P. 11 Khandakar’s
Shariatnamah, Nuruddin’s
Daquaeq-ul-Haqaeq and Sheikh
Muttalib’s Kifayet-ul-Musallin.
Alaol wrote this book Tuhfa in
1663-64 A.D.
Sikandarnama was originally
written by Nizami Ganjabi
in Persian that the book was
very popular to the scholarly
world. Alaol composed it in
Bengali by order of Nabaraj
Majlis, the Prime Minister of Sri
Chandra Sudharma, the
Arakanese king. The book was
very difficult to comprehend, it
is presumed that the great
Persian poet Nizami used words
of five languages, Arabic,
Persian, Hebrew, Pahlavi (Old
Persian) and Nasrani
Sikandarnama contains the
heroic exploits of Sikandar or Alexander.
He was the son of King Philip of
Macedonia; after the father’s death
Sikandar ascended the throne, his tutor
or friend Aristotle was made his
minister. Alexander became famous by
conquering various countries; he even
came to India, and defeated Porus of
the Panjab. But his chief opponent was
Darius of the Persia, by defeating him
Alexander conquered the kingdom. He
is said to be the same as Sikandar
Zulqarnain of the Holy Quran. It is a big
volume and among Alaol’s books
Sikandarnama was next to Padmavati
in terms of popularity. Fortunately a
standard text of the book has now been
published by the Bangla Academy
under the editorship of Dr. Ahmad
As stated above Alaol completed
the writing of this book in 1672 A.D.
This was probably the last book written
by him. The famous Alexanderia port in
Egypt was founded by Sikandar and he
is also said to be the inventor of looking
glass. He tried to get the water of
life but failed and again to be immortal
he went to Amaranagar, from there also
he came back disappointed. A man
gave him a handful of dust and he will
be merged with dust after death.
(Concluding part)
It may be remembered that Qazi Daulat
started writing this book, but before
concluding it he died. Alaol completed
this book by order of Sulaiman in 1658
A.D. Satimaina is a big book, consisting
of three parts. Qazi Daulat wrote
first two parts, Alaol added the third
part. In his part Alaol wrote “Rattan
Kalika O Madan Manjari Prasanga” and
“Ananda Barmar Galpa”. In writing
about Qazi Daulat’s part we have said
that while Lor was passing his days
with Chandrani, leaving Maina alone,
the later was passing her days in grief
due to separation. She bore her grief
with extreme patience, and at last
patience bore fruit. Lor could realise
his mistake, he returned home with
Chandrani, and all three began to live a
happy life. Alaol in his part of the book
showed that God rewards those who
have patience, and he completed the
book saying that Lor was united with
Mardan wrote his book in Kanchi
a place in Roshang. Abdul Karim Sahitya-
Visharad discovered a manuscript
of his book of which some pages
both at the beginning and end were
lost. In the available pages the title of
the book is not found, in one place the
word Nasira is found and so Abdul
Karim Sahityavisharad and Dr.
Enamul Huq write that the name of the
book was Nasiranama, the book deals
with Nasib or luck. So it is also believed
that the name of the book was
Nasibnama. The poet refers to the king
Thiri Thudamma, who reigned from
1622 to 1638 A.D. So the book must
have been written in between these two
dates. Poet Mardan was therefore a
contemporary of Qazi Daulat. In the
colophon the poet’s name is Mardan
Nuruddin and the name of his Pir was
Sayyid Ibrahim.
The poet praises the town of Kanchi
saying that in that town there were
living the Muslims, the Brahmins and
the Kayasthas. Among the Muslims
Muslims there were Alims or learned
men who were busy with the Kitab and
Quran, i.e. they were busy in religious
pursuits. The Brahmins were also
learned Pandits and they were busy
with their books or Kavyas. The Kayasthas
were also there busy in their
respective works. Kanchi was probably
the name of a township within the kingdom
of Roshang.
The subject matter of the book is
fate, whatever is in fate will happen,
God does not help the proud people
and pride hastens their fall. The story
is as follows: Abdul Nabi and Abdul
Karim, two friends were engaged in
business. The agreement was that if
one had a son and another had a
daughter they would get them
married and vice versa. Abdul Nabi had
a son, while Abdul Karim had a
daughter, but unfortunately Abdul
Karim lost his wealth and became
poor. Abdul Nabi forgot his promise
and prepared to get his son married
elsewhere. Later it so happened that
their promise was fulfilled and Abdul
Nabi’s son married Abdul Karim’s
daughter. 7
Quraishi Magan’s forefather
came from Arabia to Gaur and from
there one member of the family
moved towards the east, came to
Chittagong and ultimately moved to
Arakan. Quraishi Magan wrote a
book entitled Chandravati. Dr.
Enamul Huq discovered a manuscript
of which pages both at the
beginning and end were lost. So his
antecedents and his identity can not
be ascertained. Abdul Karim Sahityavisharad
and Dr. Enamul Huq
thought that the poet Quraishi Magan
was the same person as Magan Thakur,
the Prime Minister of Arakan and
the patron of the poet Alaol.8 But
nowadays scholars hold a different
opinion. They say that Quraishi
Magan was a different person, he had
no connection with Magan Thakur,
the Prime Minister Quraishi
Magan probably wrote his book while
he was living in Arakan. 9
The poet Abdul Karim Khondkar
was born in Arakan, and his forefathers
were engaged in state services
of Roshang. The poet writes about
his genealogy as follows:10
“Now hear how this Kitab ( Dulla
Majlis) became a Puthi (i.e. rendered
in to Bengali verse). I will tell you
something about it. In the town of
Roshang, there is a beautiful and
heavenly village named Bandar. In
that place many Qazis, Muftis, teachers
and students, Faqir and darvesh
live. Cont. P. 11
7. Abdul Karim: “Roshang Bangla
Sahitya”. Bangla Sahitya Samity,
Chittagong University, 1994, pp. 22-23.
8. Karim, Abdul (Sahityavisharad } &
Huq, Dr. Md. Enamul : Arakan Rajsabhaya
Bangla Sahitya, Calcutta, 1935, PP.
9. Abdul Karim: Roshang Bangla Sahitya,
pp. 41-45.
10. Descriptive Catalogue of Bengali-
Manucripts in Munshi Abdul Karim’s
collection, tr. By S.S. Husain, pp. 217-18.
From P. 12 Wealthy Muslims
live there and talk to the king in
friendly terms. If any poor man
comes to a house he does not
go disappointed.
The people there erected
mosques to say prayer and
thus left their names to be remembered.
Muslim learned people
were brought there, some
were appointed Khatib, some
Imam, some offer prayer as
musulli. There was one man
there who received title from
the king, the title was Sadi-uk-
Nana. He was the chief of the
merchants, and he became incharge
of the mint …….. His
name was Atibar, he was so named by
his parents, but the Magh king gave
him the title of ‘Nana’ …….. One day he
called me and heard the book Dulla
Majlis, read to him. He was happy and
said that many persons cannot understand
Persian, some understand, other
hear it from those who can read and
understand. So if it is rendered into
payer (or in Bengali) people will bless
you. At his order I promised to write
the book in Bengali verse.” ( Translation
of Text )
Dulla Majlis was a book dealing with
religious subjects, it was a big volume
consisting of 33 chapters. The book
was compose in 1200 A.H./1785 A.D. In
this same year the Burmese king
Bodawpaya conquered Arakan and
annexed it to the kingdom of Burma.
So the poet wrote this book in the last
year of the independent kingdom of
Arakan. Before that the poet wrote two
other books Tamim Ansari and Hazar
He was also known as Shuja Qazi, he
wrote in versical from a story of
Roshang known as Roshanger
Panchali (History of Roshang). He was
an inhabitant of Shadarpara of Arakan
and the poet was alive during the first
part of the 18th century.
He was an inhabitant of Qaim of
Arakan and was the author of five
books: Rahatul Qulub, Abdullar Hazar
Sawal, Nurnama, Madhumalati and
Darige Majlis. The first three books
deal with religious matters, Madhumalati
was a love story, and the subject
matter of the last book cannot be ascertained.
He was a man of Bandar, a place
near Mrohaung of Roshang. He wrote
three books entitled Amir Hamza,
Dewalmati and Haidar Jung.
We have given above the names
of some poets who flourished in
Arakan and the titles of their books.
We find that Bengali literature
produced in Arakan was very rich.
Qazi Daulat and Alaol were very famous
for their works; they were
greatest of all Muslim poets in the
whole medieval period. The presence
of so many Muslim poets in Arakan
and the production of so many books
in Bengali, show that there was a
Bengali Muslim Society there who
were ready to receive and read them.
This is a supporting evidence to
show that there were many Muslims
living in Arakan who were literate
and highly cultured. This is also a
strong evidence to prove that Muslims
had entered into Arakan from
various parts from long past. ##
Source: Prof. Dr. Abdul Karim, "The Rohingyas:
A Short Account of their
History and Culture", Printed at Sonali Art
Press, Chittagong, Bangladesh in 2000.
DVB, Monday, May 2, 2011
Dhaka has rejected a proposed
$US33 million UN project to
alleviate poverty in Bangladesh’s
Cox’s Bazaar where several
hundred thousand Rohingya refugees
have sought asylum. The
impoverished region lies close
the border with Burma’s western
Arakan state, from where hundreds
of thousands of the persecuted
Muslim minority have fled.
But the issue of aid to this
region has been locked in battle over
assistance to the Rohingya. An
unnamed Bangladeshi official quoted
by the Express newspaper said: “The
finance ministry has rejected the
scheme because the actual aim of the
UN initiative is to rehabilitate refugees
in Cox’s Bazar district under the pretext
of poverty reduction for locals.”
Chris Lewa, from The Arakan Project,
which monitors human rights abuses
against the Rohingya, says however
that “the four UN agencies joined together
to raise funds and support activities
to alleviate poverty for both the
communities”, but that the Bangladesh
“government does not want any assistance
to go to the Rohingya.”
Dhaka has been keen to not encourage
the steady flow of Rohingya out of
Arakan state. Lewa says “they
[Bangladesh government] think it
would create a pull factor” to Cox’s
Bazaar. The UN project was supposed
to be a done by UNICEF, the World
Food Programme, UN Development
Programme (UNDP) and the UN Population
Fund (UNFPA).
The Rohingya have fled Burma in
recent decades because of alleged discrimination
by the government. The
situation has become so bad that Refugees
International claimed in a recent
report that they are “one of the most
persecuted minorities in the world.”
The majority of Rohingya in Bangladesh
live in makeshift camps, and
largely as a result of Bangladeshi policy,
receive little international assistance.
Lewa says the recent refusal of
UN aid is not a new phenomenon. Only
26,000 are officially registered whilst
unregistered refugees are thought to
number as many as 500,000.
Bangladesh is one of the most
densely populated countries on earth,
as well as being one of the most impoverished.
Lewa confirms that the
area where the majority of Rohingya
seek asylum, Teknaf, is “identified as
one of the poorest [areas] in the
whole of Bangladesh.” The Bangladeshi
government official further told
the Express that “Instead of helping
cut poverty in the region, the UN
project would only increase tension
between the Rohingyas and the locals.
No doubt, it will infuriate the
local people”.
But Phil Robertson, deputy
director of Human Rights Watch’s
Asia division, alleges that “the
intention I believe is to make Bangladesh
an inhospitable spot for the
Rohingya to reside”. He continues
that the Bangladeshi government
tolerates hostile “highway robbery”
against the Rohingya, against whom
“they have declared open season”.
The Burmese government recently
appointed a new ambassador to
Bangladesh, U Hla Win. He
reportedly told Bangladeshi President
M. Zillur Rahman that the Burmese
government wanted to resolve
the Rohingya issue through dialogue
and discussion.
Lewa told DVB however that the
situation was “deteriorating further”.
She alleges that instances Cont. P.14
Bangladesh Rejects UN Help for Rohingya By Joseph Allchin,
From P. 13 of Forced labour and arbitrary arrests by the Burmese border security force, known as Nasaka, are increasing.
Relations between the two countries appear be warmer than they have been for a number of years, with
Bangladesh’s Daily Star newspaper reporting that the country would be Burmese President Thein Sein’s first port of
call since taking office in March. Bangladesh has already played host to Burma’s air force chief, Lt General Myat
Hein, who arrived on the 23 April in what was the first high-level official visit of a Burmese official to the country
since 2008. ##
By Our Reporter, 25 May 2011
Maungdaw, Arakan State: An Arakan
State civi l servant told The
Irrawaddy that in recent reshuffle, MP
Hla Han's Immigration Ministry has
now been handed over to Col. Htein
Linn, the minister of Security and Border
Affairs in the Arakan State government
which was originally combined
with the Religious Affairs Ministry.
Now, Hla Han will remain as state minister
of Religious Affairs of Arakan
On March, 21, 2011, Zakir Ahmed (U
Aung Zaw Win), a member of National
Parliament of the USDP raised question
on the Temporary Identification Cards
of the Rohingya voters in Northern Rakhine
(Arakan) State. He asked whether
the National Scrutiny Cards (known as
Pink Cards for the citizens) would be
considered for the Rohingya citizens
of Burma .
Former Home Minister of the
Junta, General Maung Oo (now in the
Parliament) responded to the call by
the Rohingya parliamentarian that sent
shock waves to the entire Rohingya
community. Referring to the citizenship
law of 1948 and 1982 (devised by the
military), the General told the parliament
that residents who wish to
“apply” can do so - apply is his keyword.
Then he added another twist that
was people with ancestries living in
the only citizens. The military picks and
chooses the time frame to exclude
Rohingya whose little strip of northern
Arakan (Rakhine State) unfortunately
fell on the Burma side of the border
when the colonial British arbitrarily
established boundaries between
Burma and then East Pakistan.
Knowing the motive of the military,
analysts suggest that the
military’s SPDC rushed with the
Rohingya citizenship issue by using
their Rohingya parliamentarian. As expected,
the hard-liner General Maung
Oo set the stage for future handling of
the issue by the incoming home minister
and former police chief, General
Khin Yi. The Burmese Military establishment
obviously takes the Rohingya
issue seriously due to the longstanding
suspicion on the Rohingya
ethnic minorities for several decades.
Revoking the citizenship of
Rohingya was done so effectively with
serious pre- calculation by the former
dictator General Ne Win that it has
affected the Rohingya by generations.
The NRC (National Registration Card)
confiscation campaign began in 1960s
relatively quietly as a very secretive
operation in its early phase. The traps
for Rohingya yielded the TICs
(Temporary Identification Card), also
notoriously known as “The White
Cards”. The white card is nothing more
Rohingya - just like a chip- insert in
animals in the wild used by game
Currently, only the Rakhine
state parliament is extended with a
ministry of Immigration and
Religious affairs to deal with the
pending issues of “nationality”
targeting at Rohingya ethnic
minority. General Maung Oo hinted
that some kinds of cards may be issued
to some of the TID white-card
holders, but there is a catch. The
military-led government will hand
that responsibility of deciding the
type of card to the Rakhine State
Parliament - an institution which is
almost entirely made up of ethnic
Rakhine members who have been
historically the driving force behind
Rohingya ethnic cleansing campaign
in Burma. The deeply rooted historic
term Rohingya is so poisonous for
ethnic Rakhine and the Burmese military
that there is likely to be an uphill
battle for Rohingya in retaining its
own identity in this upcoming
process. The Burmese military and
its Rakhine brethren love the term
Bengali for Rohingya, and there is a
looming disaster that the Rohingya
population could easily be railroaded
to the term “Bengali” to self-describe
in the highly speculated new magic
card class, category, and the colour.
Rohingya Citizenship Issue Briefly Surfaces at the Burmese Military’s New National
Assembly Session : Generals Without the Uniform Send the Same Old Message
Maungdaw Authority Again Stops the Construction of Religious Building
03 May 2011, Kaladan News
Maungdaw, Arakan State: The
concerned authorities of Maungdaw
Religious Council stopped the
construction work of Maungdaw
Central Juma (Big) Mosque yesterday,
according to a devotee from
“The Religious Council personnel
and police officers from the
Maungdaw police station went to
the mosque and ordered no more
work to be done with the construction.”
‘You have only a verbal
order from an authority, not a
written order.
What you have done is too much.
Please stop the work,’ said an official
from the religious council. ‘We want
the authority concerned with this
mosque to come to our office.’
“The order was issued from Town
Administration Head Officer U Aung
Kyaw Htun to our office to check the
construction work and to summon the
concerned authorities of the mosque to
the Religious Council office.” However,
the work of construction is carried
out by the Union Solidarity and
Development Party (USDP) where the
party received permission for
construction work. The Religious
Council of Maungdaw had stopped
the work in March, and this is second
time, it is stopped again, said an
elder from Maungdaw.
“The Regional Development
Association (RDA) with People’s
Parliament member U Aung Zaw Win
(USDP) is taking responsibility for
the construction work of the mosque.
The construction work includes
building a toilet and a prayers washroom,
which the devotees need for
the praying process. ##
By Our Reporter, 07 May 2011
Maungdaw, Arakan State: A young girl
was gang-raped by members of
Burma’s border security force (Nasaka)
in her house at about 2 a.m. on April
29, said a close relative of the victim on
condition of anonymity.
The victim was identified as Sokina
Begum (not her real name), 18, the
daughter of Ahmed (Name change),
who hails from Thayegon Dan Village
of Maungdaw Township. On that day, at
about 2 a.m., a group of Nasaka numbering
three from Tun Chaung Village
Nasaka out-post camp went to the said
village on patrol and entered the house
of Ahmed after breaking the door to
search for his son over the allegation
that his son had crossed the Burma-
Bangladesh border illegally.
A villager from the locality said,
“The son of Ahmed has not crossed
the Burma-Bangladesh border. If the
Nasaka wants the victim, he will be
summoned to the camp. It is not necessary
to come to his house at night
and rape his sister.”
At the time, the son was not present
there, so the Nasaka officers failed to
arrest him. In the guise of searching for
the son of Ahmed, the Nasaka personnel
looked everywhere in the house
with bad intentions. At last, Ahmed and
his wife were fastened with a rope to a
pillar by the Nasaka personnel who
then gang-raped their virgin daughter
in the house before leaving, said
another close relative of the victim.
“The next day, the parents of the
victim went to the village chairman and
complained about the rape of their
daughter by the Nasaka. But the Chairman
said, “It is not a concern of mine.”
As the parents were discouraged by
the chairman, they did not dare to go to
the Nasaka camp to complain to the
higher officials because of fear of harassment
by the Nasaka.”
Burma’s border security force’s
untimely entering at villagers’ houses
at night in Maungdaw Township is
unendurable for the villagers, said a
village elder from the locality. After
entering the houses, the Nasaka
pretends to search for some things
before leaving the houses, but sometimes
they want to attack women and
girls if they get the opportunity. At
night, if the house owner does not
open the door, the Nasaka enters the
home after breaking the door and
harassing the owner.
However, earlier, Nasaka
Director Lt. Col. Aung Gyi ordered
the villagers not to open their door at
night to anybody. But the Nasaka
personnel break the order, said a
youth. Often, pretty or young girls
are raped in front of family members.
Rapes are reported to occur
more frequently when men (husband,
son, or father) are absent from their
homes. Sexual violence is being
used by the regime as an integral
part of its strategy to crush the
ethnic peoples, and establish control
over their lands and resources, said
a schoolteacher from Maungdaw
town. ##
Source : Kaladan News
Rohingya Girl Gang-raped by Nasaka of Maungdaw-South
Rohingyas Pass Years in Stateless Limbo in Indian Jail
Kurt Achin , New Delhi, May 19, 2011
Hundreds of men belonging to
Burma's minority Rohingya ethnic
group continue to languish in stateless
limbo in an Indian jail, after being rescued
at sea more than two years ago.
The waiting came to a welcome end
for 18 Rohingya boat people Thursday,
as they crossed from India's West Bengal
state into Bangladesh. More than
200 other Rohingyas, though, remain in
a prison on India's Andaman and Nicobar
Islands, in a waiting process that
has stretched from months to years.
Rohingyas are a Muslim minority
with historical roots in Burma. However,
that nation stripped them of citizenship
in 1982, and Rohingyas say
they are systematically and violently
oppressed by Burmese security forces.
More than 200,000 Rohingyas have
fled to Bangladesh, where some have
spent decades in camps while being
denied both immigration rights and
formal refugee status. Increasingly
desperate Rohingyas have attempted
dangerous illegal boat journeys to
southern Thailand and Malaysia in
hopes of finding work and shelter.
India rescued more than 400
Rohingyas at sea in late 2008, after
they said the Thai military removed the
engine from their boat and towed them
out to the ocean, abandoning them
without provisions. With the
exception of the 18 who left India Friday,
they all have languished ever
since in an Indian prison facility.
The rescue
boat people
by the Indian
in the Andaman
Getting Bangladesh to provide the
necessary paper work for their return,
the Rohingyas say, often can be
a matter of paying police there a
bribe, which many say they simply
cannot afford. Recently VOA managed
to arrange a phone conversation
with several Rohingya prisoners
inside the Indian prison in Port Blair.
They are unnamed, and their voices
are masked, for their protection. One
prisoner said desperate conditions
drove him to where he is today.
Speaking to VOA from Bangladesh,
Rohingya community leader Salim
Ullah said Bangladesh leaders are
reluctant to grant the group refugee
status. Salim said Bangladesh has its
own serious problems with population
growth and poverty. The plight
of the several hundred Rohingyas in
Indian custody mirrors the much
broader Rohingya problem. They are
a massive displaced population with
neither a state, nor an available
mechanism, for seeking asylum.
International aid organizations
say unless the international community
steps up to initiate resettlement
programs for the Rohingya population,
hundreds of thousands of them
will continue to live in squalor and be
vulnerable to abuse and human trafficking.
Maungdaw, Arakan State. The
Burmese Border Security Force,
known as Nasaka, stepped up extortion,
atrocities, and rape in Rohingya
villages since the Military’s General
Election in late 2010. The most recent
event took place in Kamaung Seik
( Fakira Bazaar) of Maungdaw North,
where several villagers have reportedly
fled to Bangladesh seeking shelters.
Recently an Nasaka collaborator
informed to the Nasaka Headquarters
that a group of insurgents had entered
from the hill-tracks of Bangladesh and
held a meeting with locals in the house
of a man named Jaffar. As a result, the
Nasaka Director Lt. Col. Aung Gyi
ordered Commander Major San Win
Khine of Nasaka Area No. 2 to send
Nasaka personnel to arrest the
The commander, accompanied by
a group of Nasaka personnel to the
village, surrounded Jaffar’s house, but
a subsequent search yielded no
results. The angry Nasaka commander
brought the Jaffar and Saber families,
including women and children, to the
camp and reportedly conducted
physical abuse. However, the following
day, one of the representatives of
UNHCR went to the camp and had them
released by saying that the incident
was not related to the women. The
Nasaka officer denied the allegation
that his forces committed the rape of
several women.
Some of the abuses of Rohingya
villagers were fueled by the party rivalries
stemming from the last election.
The Regional Development Association
(RDA) Chariman and USDP party aides
jointly moved against the supporters
of NDPD party and implicated them
as insurgents. The arrests of
villagers have climbed to 35 and
counting. All the detainees have
been brought to Nasaka Areas 3, 5,
and 6 and tortured to get confessional
statements that the authorities
needed. Their beards were shaved,
they forced to walk on the rivets,
and they were ironed on the backside.
At present, every day Nasaka go
to the village tract and arrest
innocent villagers with allegation that
they have connection to the so-called
insurgents. According to credible
witnesses, the Nasaka forces have
been planting false evidence inside
the properties of the suspects, and
then demanding large sums of
money or arresting those who do not
comply with their demands. This is
causing many villagers to flee across
the border to Bangladesh along
with their families for fear of arrest,
torture, and rape. These are the
primary causes of steady flow of
refugees to Bangladesh in small
numbers seeking shelters in the
unofficial camps.
“The Nasaka forces have seized
the properties of the fleeing families,
including all their belongings sold
them at the market”, said a resident
of Walladon Village. Recently, 20
detainees were produced in Maungdaw
Court first, followed by a second
group of seven, all charged with
section 17(1). However, the court
ruled that they were not guilty as
charged based on the investigation
of several witnesses, according to a
local businessman.
Kamaung Seik ( Fakira Bazar )
Village Tract has seven villages and
1,700 houses. The incident happened
in one village, and the Nasaka forces
reportedly have arrested villagers
from all seven neighbouring
villages. Ironically, the Nasaka forces
have been much more brazen after
the Military’s election. Further
increases in atrocities and inhumane
treatments of Rohingya men, women,
and children in Northern Arakan
State is highly likely as the power
continues to shift from military to
provincial assembly. ##
Source: Kaladan Press
Atrocities by Burmese Nasaka Forces in Rohingya Villages at Alarming

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