Burma Times Editorial: April 06, 2015
The day began like any other for 14 year Begum (not her real name). Household chores, religious education, gossip wit friends and so on. Yet as darkness fell on the now desolate village of Rathedaung, Begum’s life had changed forever.
Before evening, BGP suddenly raided her house looking for residents from Rajar Bil. When they could not find anyone, they suddenly accused the head of the household of being a terrorist. They assaulted the men and sexually abused the womenfolk.
For Begum and her two sisters, their childhood is gone. In Arakan, a Muslim girl does not have much of a childhood anyway, but Begum never thought that she would be sexually assaulted by Burmese soldiers.
For the past few days, security forces have been combing different villages in Rathedaung, assaulting men and sexually abusing women. Anyone they find is fair game. The operation started when six men went missing from police custody. At first, relatives and local villagers thought police had murdered them. In all fairness it was our assumption also.
Later our sources confirmed the men escaped when policemen under the influence of alcohol neglected to keep an eye on the prisoners. The higher authorities were not impressed and declared the policemen and BGP personal would be punished if the prisoners were not found.
The security personal out of desperation rounded up three of the sons and a brother of four of the missing men. Inhumane torture was unleashed on them. When that failed to yield any information, they arrested arbitrarily from Rajar Bil. In response the Rajar Bil residents ran away.
This further infuriated the security forces and they cracked down on villages throughout Rathedaung. We all know what happens when the police and BGP are unleashed like wolves on innocent villagers.
Burma Times, along with other Rohingya news outlets have tried to reveal the extent of police and BGP brutality on Muslims in Rathedaung over the past few days. In truth, we have hardly been able to record and reveal even close to the full extent of their brutality. One reason is that women sexually abused keep quiet. Another reason is due to the crackdown, it has often been difficult getting information. Also the security forces generally assault people on the spot and do not take them to custody. Incidents of assault are countless. This is not to say that people are not being arrested. The prison walls of Kiang Dong currently echo with the helpless cries of tortured Muslim prisoners.
The search for the prisoners is futile. All of Burma’s security apparatus will not be able to locate them. The security forces probably know it. Torturing their relatives and general people of Rathedaung will yield no results. Drunk on rage of loosing their prisoners, it is likely that they will continue this operation for some time.
Yet on another level the futile search for reasons will yield some results for the government. It is well known that the regime follows a policy of slow burning genocide implemented for achieving the aims of ethnic cleansing or expulsion of Rohingyas and other Muslims in Arakan while at the same time escaping international attention. The crackdown at Rathedaung is unlikely to generate international concerns. But at the same time, it will convince many Rohingyas to escape their homeland forever.