Burma Times Correspondent: March 14, 2015
Locals at Chaki para, Akyab expressed their frustration to the Burma Times Correspondent on their inability to protest at the torture and long term imprisonment of three Rohingya Muslim leaders. They blame the inactivity on the heavy presence of security forces and also the inability of Rohingya leaders in the state capital to organise from an united platform.
Many Akyab neighbourhoods were however the site of a heroic defense during the riots of 2012 when Muslim men and women beat back better armed and numerically superior Rakhine mobs despite suffering heavy casualties. Their lines however collapsed when security forces mowed through them with machine guns. After that the Rakhine mobs swept along with the security forces raping and murdering hundreds.
Since then Akyab has changed demographically and many Rohingya Muslims have cleared out altogether. Others have been confined to IDP camps described by rights groups as open air prisons. Many were imprisoned and tortured in the infamous prisons of the state. Hundreds have died in custody following daily torture. Other Akyab neighbourhoods were blockaded, many basic supplies such as water cut off and crackdowns were committed at regular intervals by security forces.
Such a scenario has greatly weakened the local Muslim population which has also diminished in numbers. Once a mixed city where Rakhines only slightly outnumbered their Muslim counterparts, the main parts of the city are virtually Muslim free.
Events leading up to their imprisonment
Haji Sho Min, his son Md Yusuf and Dr Ali Ahmed received the lengthy prison terms after a court in Akyab found them guilty of inciting Muslims to violence.
The three men, along with Hukkata Kalaiya, Postmaster Yusuf and Sa Long were charged in 2013 for carrying out attacks against the military in the state capital.
At that time, Yusuf managed to escape but the five others were arrested in April and subjected to brutal torture in custody.
The trouble started when a child at Chakipara threw a stone at military personnel who went to raid the Rohingya neighbourhood.
In response the military beat the child until he was unconscious. Locals rushed to the spot and rescued the child from the clutches of the military. The army went away but later implicated the six community leaders for attacks against the military.
The five men were released after one and a half year of prison and daily torture. However upon their release, the anti Muslim 969 movement initiated a campaign accusing the men of inciting hatred, carrying out anti state activities and encouraging Rohingyas not to identify themselves as Bengalis.