Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three Rohingya couples flee to Bangladesh for fear of torture and imprisonment

Maungdaw, Arakan State (Kaladan Press): Three couples recently fled to Bangladesh for fear of torture and imprisonment, since they married without permission from the concerned authorities, a school teacher from a refugee camp said on condition of anonymity.

The three couples were identified as (1) Minara Begum (20) and Zakaria (30), (2) Elema Khatoon (27) and Habi Rahaman (30) and (3) Anwara Begum (25) and Md. Noor (25). All of them belong to Phur Wut Chaung village of Maungdaw town.

The three couples had submitted three applications to the Nasaka, but they did not get permission for marriage, as they were unable to bribe the Nasaka authorities. They did not get permission though a year had passed since their application.

The three couples tied the knot recently, without getting any permission from the concerned authorities. However, this information reached the Nasaka, so the Nasaka has been trying to arrest them. As a result, the three couples secretly crossed the Burma-Bangladesh border on January 23, and are currently living near the Nayapara refugee camp.

According to one of the couples, "If we are arrested by the Nasaka, we will be tortured and sentenced to at least 5 years in jail. Besides, my wife will be physically tortured and insulted."

Another couple said, "We fled to Bangladesh, fearing torture, imprisonment and physical abuse in custody."

Earlier, the concerned authorities ordered the Rohingya community not to marry without taking permission from them. To get permission, a couple has to bribe the Nasaka. Some couples are unable to pay huge amounts to the Nasaka. Therefore, they are barred from marrying.

In order to get permission for marriage, the bridegroom will have to be 24 years and the bride will have to be 18.

Besides, serious restrictions are imposed on the Rohingyas on their marriage. They are not allowed to marry without official permission which takes some two years to obtain from the authority and again no permission is granted without signing a commitment not to have more than two children. Couples caught getting married or sleeping together without this approval can be arrested. And there are innumerable cases where Rohingyas have been jailed for even seven years for not complying with the requirements of the marriage rules which are only applicable to Rohingyas in Burma.

However, the stories of groaning Rohingyas which has started since long are still continuing. They have been bleeding and their tears have been rolling down their cheeks generation after generation. Sometimes they die in silence or perish in the deep sea beyond the notice and sometimes they cry in the corner. Nobody knows when the stories of their bloods and tears will come to an end, said Faroog from Norway.

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