Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Natala villagers stab Rohingya youth in Maungdaw

Maungdaw, Arakan State (KPN): Natala (model) villagers from Taungbro left, a sub-town under Maungdaw Township, stabbed a Rohingya villager on May 10, at about 11:00 pm, when the Rohingya villagers stopped them from catching fish from their shrimp projects, a close relative of the victim said.

On that night, a group of Natala villagers, including women carrying lethal weapons went to nearby shrimp projects of Rohingya villagers, to catch fish. Seeing the Natala villagers, the Rohingya villagers, who were watching for thieves and robbers at their shrimp projects, barred them from catching fishes. However, the Natala villagers defied them and caught fishes from the projects. Hence, there was an altercation between the Natala villagers and Rohingya villagers, who were watching over their projects.

One of the Natala villagers stabbed a Rohingya villager called Salim (20), son of Abu Taher, who hailed from Ward No.1 of Taungbro left Sub-town. Witnessing the incident, the rest of the watchers raised a hue and cry. Hearing the noise, some of the Nasaka and Rohingya villagers rushed to the spot, but the Natala villagers ran away from the scene. However, one of the female Natala villagers accompanied by her child was arrested from the street and was brought to the Nasaka camp.

The victim is not in a critical condition and is being treated at a local clinic, said one of the victim’s family members.

The following morning, on May 11, a group of Nasaka went to the Natala village and arrested five Natala villagers after encircling the village and brought them to the Nasaka camp. They have been detained, a trader from the locality said.

Initially, the State Peace and Development Council’s (SPDC‘s) set up model villages in northern Arakan calling Rakhines from inside and outside of Arakan State. Later, the authorities brought poor Burmans from central Burma, mostly retired civil servants, former prisoners, and street people to establish Natala villages. There is a little difference between a Model village and a Natala village, which is most of the Natala villagers, are Burmans and get many facilities than those of model villagers. The people were not willing to come to Arakan, but they were forcibly brought there. They were even tied by the legs while they were brought to Arakan by ship from Rangoon, said a schoolteacher from the locality.

The Natala villagers frequently create problems for Rohingya villagers. They steal cattle, fowls, goats, vegetables from Rohingya villagers and even rob and kill Rohingya travellers. They are encouraged by the concerned authorities, who give them all the facility and protection to become gangsters in Northern Arakan. Natala villages have resulted in the confiscation of lands and extraction of forced labor from the Rohingya community.

Most of the Natala villagers in Maungdaw Township, do not like to stay in their remote Natala villages, so they go to Maungdaw-Aley Than Kyaw road, establishing tents by the road-side with the cooperation of the local Nasaka authorities. Afterwards, they establish small markets, bar shops, video rooms and even indulge in gambling, said an elderly man from Maungdaw town.

The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) set up a police out-post or army battalions close to Natala villages to give them security. If the Natala villagers commit any crime against the Rohingya villagers, the police or Nasaka take no action against them. But, sometimes, the concerned authority takes slight action against the Natala villagers if necessary to please the Rohingya villagers. Natala villagers never hesitate to commit any crimes against the Rohingya community.

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