Muslims deprived of last livelihoods
Burma Times Editorial: April 12, 2015
The hungry cries of the children were too much for him to bear. For days, the man of the house Noor Mohammed from Shisha para, Akyab, also known as Depaing, have been unable to feed his children. His village lies in the midst of many Rakhine settlements and they have enforced a relentless blockade on the movement of all Muslims. As a result, the poor villagers dependent on fishing have been unable to earn their livelihoods.
On the night of March 28, Noor could not take it anymore. Along with five friends who also had famished children in his home, they sneaked off in the cover of darkness.
The fishing expedition went well at first. The Rohingyas smiled, knowing that after many days, the kids would not be hungry. They started back to their village, happier than they started.
But as they returned, a cry penetrated through the darkness. They had been discovered. The men ran as fast as they could. All of them managed to escape but not Noor
As the gang caught up with him, they beat him mercilessly. He was dragged to the police station where the law enforcers joined in. By the time they were finished, it was evident that the father would never have to hear the hungry screams of his children. Nor would he ever sneak unto the dark night to provide food for his family.
In the past weeks, many people going to government institutions and police stations heard one discussion over and over again. “How is it the Muslims are still surviving in spite of the pressure we put on them? Are we not being tough enough? They still find ways to eat… and so on.” The response to this problem was predictable enough. The authorities asked their people to be more vigilant towards Rohingya fishermen and wood collectors.
For the vast majority of Rohingyas, these are the two last remaining sources of livelihood. The government has perceived that by stopping Rohingyas from the waters that provide fish, or the hills or forests that provide wood, they might succeed in their aims of driving the Rohingyas out. This fits into the government policy of slow burning genocide – – carry on the mass murder of Rohingya Muslims without attracting international attention as much as possible.
In the past few days, there have been almost daily attacks on men who went to fish or those who went to collect wood. It is likely that the state and their Buddhist nationalist allies will step up these attacks. In the meantime, as we fail to identify and address the latest trends that the wily government implements to carry on the persecution, we make things a little bit more difficult for our brothers and sisters stuck inside.