Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another boat laden with refugees ready to leave for Malaysia

Kaladan Press

Teknaf, Bangladesh: A boat filled with refugees is ready for departure to Malaysia, within two days from the Bangladesh coast near Nafit Khali village of Chakoria police station under Cox's Bazaar district, Hakim from the border area said.

The broker is Habi Ullah (42), son of Nazir Ahmed, and hails from Kol-loon (Thinn Baw Gwe) village of Maungdaw Township. He fled from Burma 10 years ago and now lives in Oliabad village of Teknaf Union. He is the son in-law-of Ali Ahmed of Teknaf. Therefore, he has a lot of influence in the local area and continues trade in human trafficking for his personal benefit.

He collects refugees from Arakan, from refugee camps and border areas of Bangladesh, who have been living in Bangladesh illegally. He has collected Kyat 20,000 per head for the trip to Malaysia through the sea route

Most of the people, who died in the Andaman Sea in the last two months, were sent to Malaysia, under the broker-ship of Habi Ulla. However, he is again preparing to send refugees to Malaysia, through the risky sea route. After the death of nearly 300 people in the Andaman Sea, the concerned authorities of Bangladesh have been taking action against the people, who are involved in human trafficking. In such a situation, broker Habi Ullah still dares to send people to Malaysia, a refugee said.

On the other hand, how the new refugees were again daring to go to Malaysia by the sea route, despite knowing about the current situation through the radio, TV and the print media, was surprising, according to a Rohingya elder from Arakan.

When contacted, a new refugee, who intends to go to Malaysia by boat said, "We know very well the situation of the boatpeople, who reached Thailand, Indonesia and India. We have no alternative except to flee the motherland by sea as we have been locked in a big cage, without sufficient food, movement restriction, without work, marriage restriction, while the torture and political persecution is still continued by the military junta. It is better to die at sea, I think."

According to a trader from the border area, the authorities need to stop the boat laden with refugees before it leaves for Malaysia, or the refugees will face tremendous hardships.

Thailand has been accused of mistreating up to 1,000 Rohingya boatpeople, hundreds of whom were rescued off India and Indonesia last month, claiming that they had been beaten by Thai soldiers and dragged back to sea, with little food and water and left to die, sources said.

Consul General Ye Myint Aung wrote to his fellow diplomats in Hong Kong yesterday, explaining that the Rohingya were not actually Burmese and were not accepted as one of the ethnic groups of his country, or indeed as citizens. He wrote "You will see in the photos that their complexion is 'dark brown' and "ugly as ogres" in contrast to the complexion of Burmese, which was "fair and soft, good looking as well," according to the South China Morning Post dated 11 February 2009. But, ARNO, a political group stated on her statement dated February 13, 2009, “We know and everybody knows, the skins of the people of Burma – not the skins of Rohingya alone - have been daily faded under the iron heel of U Aye Myint Aung and his tyrannical military regime...”

According to history “until 10th century, the people of Arakan were Indians similar to that of East Bengal”. The Rohingya are the only people who look like people of East Bengal or Bengalis. The then Chairman of the Burma Historical Commission Col. Bashin stated from 1430 to 1531, for more than one hundred years, Arakan was virtually ruled by the Muslims. It is a gross lie to say that the Rohingya have no ‘historic right’, the right of the first occupier of Arakan.

In spite of clear affirmation of Rohingya as an indigenous group by the former parliamentary government (1948-1962), U Bo Hla Tint described Rohingya issue a matter of political complication in all three periods of U Nu, U Ne Win and SPDC and it has to be decided by the would-be parliament. This view contradicts the NCGUB’s earlier statement, expressed in its “Position paper on Persecution of Muslims in Arakan State” dated September 24, 1992, submitted to the United Nations, affirming “Muslim Rohingyas have lived in Arakan for centuries; Muslims Rohingyas are Burmese citizens; Muslim Rohingyas have the same rights and privileges as other citizens of Burma regardless of their ethnic beliefs or ethnic background.”, according to ARNO statement dated February 13, 2009.

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