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Posts Tagged Bangladesh Cruelty

Real Causes behind Quader Mullah’s Execution:Hasina Wajid’s India Ordered Extrajudicial Killings





Real Causes behind Quader Mullah’s Execution

By Sajjad Shaukat


Renowned political thinkers, Hobbes, Machiavelli and Morgenthau opine that rulers act upon

immoral activities like deceit, fraud and falsehood which become the principles of political

morality. In one way or the other, they also follow these tactics in seeking revenge to fulfill

their selfish aims. But such a sinister politics was replaced by new trends such as fair-dealings,

forgiveness, reconciliation and economic development.

In this regard, former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela was recently buried in his

native town with great respect and grace under the shadow of dripping tears and mourning—

recalling his underlined message that constructs like reconciliation and clemency were much

superior and morally sound than taking revenge, while pursuing the policies of friction. His

departure brought end of a legend who taught world’s politicians to develop moral courage and

will power to demonstrate reconciliation and compassion for others. He rejected the mundane

approach to undertake harsh decisions driven by crude sense of retribution and foul practice of

violence. All peace-loving people of the world feel pride in paying tributes to Nelson Mandela.

Unfortunately in Bangladesh, it has become difficult to pay homage to Nelson Mandela because

by acting upon the immoral activities of the past theorists, and in order to address old grievances

of Awami League, the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid hurriedly

executed the death penalty of a political opponent, Abdul Quader Mullah-leader of Jamaat-e- Islami (Jl).

Thus, she has created an atmosphere of hatred, vengeance and conflict.

Obsessed with strong motives of revenge and political expediency, Bangladesh government

hanged Quader Mullah by disregarding the appeals of the UN Secretary General, human rights

organizations and objections, raised by law experts on the question of fair trial and skewed

judgment. These entities seriously pointed fingers at even-handedness of the trial, quality

of evidence, while questioning the fairness of justice and vengeance by the government and

judiciary in Bangladesh.

However, real causes behind the execution of Abdul Quader Mullah are quite different from

those of the obvious ones. In this respect, in her desire to appease India, Prime Minister Hasina

Wajid’s government has executed Jl leader on charges for which only rustic and speculative

evidence was used, which is against the spirit of proving a charge. While, evidence should be

beyond any reasonable doubt especially when it is the question of life and death, but when

political government and judiciary form a nexus, such blunders appear as the outcome which

amounts to judicial murder. So, both the executive and the judicial bodies would not be able to

remove such dirty spots from their politico-judiciary history sheet.

In this context, Prime Minister Hasina and its like-minded clique of judiciary have derived the

sadistic pleasure and emotional gratification in swift elimination of a political rival, but the entire

scheme uncovered insular mindedness and narrow mentality of the Bangladesh leadership. The

ruling party, Awami League has failed to perform well during its term of governance, and has

brought about political instability, social strife and financial problems in the country. Owing to

incompetence and flawed policies, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has totally failed in resolving

 the problems of the impoverished masses. Therefore, she is generally known as an Indian puppet.

Now, Awami League desires to win the forthcoming elections on the basis of hate-vote and vindictive politics.

Notably, to keep her in power, Prime Minister Hasina amended the constitution for the holding

of elections under a non-party set up and the opposition has accused her for manipulating the

electoral process to establish a one party state. The fifteen party opposition alliance led by

Begum Khalida Zia did not file nominations for the January 5 polls, sticking to their stance of

boycotting the elections over the failure of Hasina Wajid to form a neutral interim government.

It is feared that the whimsical decisions of the leadership and not listening to the opposition

demand, would lead to more bloodshed in that poor country.

In fact, since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came into power, India has been employing various

tactics to entrap Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its strategic interests.In

this context, Prime Minister Hasina has been pursuing Indian directions by conducting anti- Pakistan campaign.

Therefore, after passing of 42 years to the events of 1971, which resulted

  into the separation of East Pakistan, Abdul Quader was hanged because of his loyalty with

Pakistan. Till the very end before creation of Bangladesh, he remained supporter of a united

Pakistan and today every Pakistani is saddened on his death.

When Pakistan’s National Assembly expressed concern over the execution of Quader Mullah,

with the backing of Bangladesh government, a majority of the workers of Awami League and

Bengali Hindus continued demonstrating outside the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka,

demanding the expulsion of the Pakistani envoy. While chanting anti-Pakistani slogans,

officially-arranged protesters in Bangladesh also burnt Pakistan’s flag.

In this connection, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that Quader Mullah’s execution

was internal matter of Bangladesh which “is our neighbouring Islamic country…Bangladesh

should avoid blame game and try to further strengthen relations with Pakistan.”

But, by neglecting Islamabad’s positive approach, Bangladesh government has continued its

anti-Pakistan approach to please India. It could be judged from the statement of Prime Minister

Hasina Wajid who vocally said, “Bangladesh has no room for the people loving Pakistan.”

On the other side, the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah led to widespread violent protests by

the opposition activists, which resulted into the deaths of more than 40 people, as police shoot

those who raised their voice against the policies of Hasina Wajid government.

Nevertheless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been following pro-Indian policies. In this

context, on the secret insistence of India, unlike the past years, a ceremony was held in Dhaka

on March 24, 2013, with full pump and show to honour ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award,’

in relation to the separation of East Pakistan. For this aim, several foreign friends who included

various institutions and media anchors from various countries, particularly India were invited.

The main purpose behind was to distort the image of Pakistan and its armed forces regarding

alleged atrocities, committed against the Bengalis. Notably, on the instruction of New Delhi,

in December, 2012, Prime Minister Hasina had refused to attend D-8 conference in Islamabad


unless Pakistan tendered apology for the alleged genocide of Bengalis.

In the recent past, a book titled, “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoirs” written

by the Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as his autobiography has been simultaneously

released in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Without grasping reality, the book misconceived

that it was not Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bengalis who wanted to break up Pakistan, but

actually created Pakistan. In fact, the political intrigues and blunders of military dictators broke

up Pakistan—Majib was arrested and a military operation started in East Pakistan. Bengalis were

massacred and their women were raped.

While a famous Bengali journalist Sarmila Bose authored a book, “Dead Reckoning: Memories

of the 1971 Bangladesh War” after thorough investigation. Her book was published in 2011.

While countering exaggerations of the Indian and Bengali Journalists, Bose argues that the

number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000 while Bengalis were

equally involved in the bloodshed of Punjabis, Biharis, Pashtoons and Balochis.

Majib was already in connivance with India for separation of East Pakistan. Therefore, when

East Pakistan was occupied by Indian Army in 1971, he stated with pleasure that his 24 years old

dream of an independent Bangladesh had been fulfilled. He had earlier developed his contacts

with Indian rulers and training camps of Mukti Bahini, established by Indian army and RAW

which also funded Mujibur Rehman’s general elections in 1970.

Reliable sources indicate that Ms. Hasina directed her staff to close the chapter of water and

border conflicts with India. Besides, the Awami League has given transit trade facilities to

Bharat—a move which has been resisted by the Bangladeshi patriots for the past several decades.

In this respect, a writer has rightly said, “Hasina Wajid again started Honey Moon Period of

relationship with India.”

Besides, by ignoring public protests and strikes by students and Islamic parties due to pro- Indian tilt, P.M. Hasina Wajid has given secular orientation to the country by purging the society

from religious touch. She has issued instructions for the removal of some Islamic books from

academic courses.

Particularly, a survey conducted by a local agency pointed out that 98% Bangladeshis are not

ready to leave Islamic culture. They also hate undue interference of India in Bangladesh’s affairs.

Consequently, we cannot see Abdul Quader Mullah’s execution in isolation, as it is part of real

causes which prove that Banladeshi Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has been appeasing Indian

leaders by targeting Pakistan, while playing wicked politics of revulsion, division and discord.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

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Bangladesh’s Muslims uniting behind Hefazat-e-Islam

Government is wary of a movement led by Shah Ahmad Shafi that has gathered strength since its launch in 2010

  • shah ahmad shafi
Bangladeshi police escort Hefazat-e-Islam leader Shah Ahmad Shafi from a madrasa in Dhaka on 6 May, a day after he instigated mass protests in the city. Photograph: Monirul Alam/Zuma Press/Corbis

Passersby cast wary looks at a bunch of men lurking outside the entrance to the Hathazari madrasa. They stand out, having neither beards nor traditional dress. Indeed, one of them has had the bright idea of wearing a flowered shirt. For the past few weeks the madrasa in Chittagong, central Bangladesh, has been under police surveillance. It houses 12,000 Qur’anic students, guided by Shah Ahmad Shafi, who heads Hefazat-e-Islam, the country’s largest radical Islamic movement.

At his instigation over 500,000 demonstrators clogged the streets of Dhaka on 5 May, demanding the application of 13 measures, including a ban on mixing of men and women in public places, the removal of sculptures and demands for the former wording of the constitution to be reinstated, affirming “absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah”. About 50 people were killed in clashes with police and several leaders were arrested. Since then Hefazat has avoided the media, for fear of reprisals. The government is extremely wary of a movement that has steadily gathered strength since its launch three years ago.

We had to climb into a car with smoked-glass windows to enter the madrasa, where a cadre took us to the guide’s office. Shafi, 93, only sees visitors after a long early-afternoon nap. He rarely speaks in public, less still to journalists. One of his proteges actually spoke to us, under his supervision, with so much fervour and devotion he might have been saying a prayer. Only once did Shafi raise his bushy white eyebrows, saying: “Above all, do not imagine we are interested in politics. Our aims are noble and exclusively religious.”

Hefazat was formed in January 2010, in opposition to plans to give women the same rights of inheritance as men. It gained new recruits in April this year, after secular demonstrations in the capital. Thousands of people flocked to Shabhag Square, demanding the death sentence for the perpetrators of crimes during the war of independence, when they sought to maintain links between Pakistan and Bangladesh, then known as east Pakistan, the better to defend Islam.

But radical Muslims publicised the allegedly blasphemous statements of various bloggers, discrediting the Shabhag movement and regaining the initiative. “We shall fight till all 13 of our demands have been satisfied,” promises one of Hefazat’s general-secretaries.

Hefazat had previously kept a low profile. “It represents poor people, with little education, mainly country folk, who have always been despised by the urban middle classes. There is nothing transnational or terrorist about the movement, but it may become more radical if it is sidelined,” says Farhad Mazar, a political commentator. Hefazat enjoys the support of millions of believers, thanks to the control it exerts over the vast majority of Qur’anic schools in Bangladesh. “Our schools train the best imams. About a quarter of them then leave for the Gulf states, the United Kingdom or the United States, and they support us financially,” says Habib Ullah, the movement’s deputy-general-secretary.

Hefazat has taken advantage of favourable circumstances to pull together a series of long-established political groups and organisations that have never before displayed such unity. Jamaat-e-Islami, its main rival at the head of a political party, has been undermined by the arrest of several of its leaders, on charges of war crimes.

The rise of Hefazat mirrors the declining secular ideology dating back to independence. Secularism served as a basis for Bangladeshi identity in 1971, when the country united to break away from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, becoming one of the four basic principles enshrined in the constitution of 1972. But it has been disputed ever since. In 1977 the constitution was revised to assert “absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah [as] the basis of all actions”. Then in June 1988 a further constitutional amendment made Islam the state religion.

Islamism fills a gap in the political and ideological spectrum left vacant by the parties that coalesced around the independence movement, worn out by subsequent quarrels and scandals. “It is too soon to say that secularism is dead,” says Ali Riaz, professor of politics and government at Illinois State University. “But the rise of Islamism, in the past 30 years, has influenced the political discourse and agenda, and to a certain extent social behaviour.”

If this trend persists, it may hold back women’s emancipation and fuel a sense of insecurity among religious and ethnic minorities. “The government has failed so far to protect these minorities,” Riaz adds. In March hundreds of Hindu shrines and homes were burned down. This particular minority now accounts for less than 10% of the population, compared with 15.5% in 1975.

Hefazat is determined to influence the outcome of the election scheduled for early 2014, though it shuns direct involvement in politics, perceived as “impure”. The ruling Awami League is in a difficult position, trapped between the Islamists and the opposition, which accuses it of confiscating power by refusing to form an interim government capable of organising a transparent election.

“The fact that [the Awami League] will not hear of an interim government may mean that it thinks it is going to lose. You may win without the support of the Islamists, but you cannot win against them,” warns a Dhaka academic. Safe behind the walls of his madrasa, Shafi could well act as the kingmaker in the next election.


This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from Le Monde

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  • VzbIn 1978, the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship in 1982 and became the perfect foil for rampant human rights abuse, including slave labour and torture, that led to a second exodus into Bangladesh in 1991-1992. (Source: The Guardian)


Special Report: Plight of Muslim minority threatens Myanmar Spring

  • Related Video
Myanmar Rohingya children look through holes in a fence around a mosque in their slum in Sittwe May 19, 2012. REUTERS-Damir Sagolj
A Myanmar Rohingya girl wears traditional make-up in the village of Takebi, north of the town of Sittwe in this May 18, 2012 file photo. REUTERS-Damir Sagolj-Files
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hold hands as they speak after meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Yangon in this December 2, 2011 file photo. REUTERS-Saul Loeb-Pool-Files

By Andrew R.C. Marshall

TAKEBI, Myanmar | Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:11am EDT

TAKEBI, Myanmar (Reuters) This village in northwest Myanmar has the besieged air of a refugee camp. It is clogged with people living in wooden shacks laid out on a grid of trash-strewn lanes. Its children are pot-bellied with malnutrition.

But Takebi’s residents are not refugees. They are Rohingya, a stateless Muslim people of South Asian descent now at the heart of Myanmar’s worst sectarian violence in years. The United Nations has called them “virtually friendless” in Myanmar, the majority-Buddhist country that most Rohingya call home. Today, as Myanmar opens up, they appear to have more enemies than ever.

Armed with machetes and bamboo spears, rival mobs of Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists this month torched one another’s houses and transformed nearby Sittwe, the capital of the western state of Rakhine, into a smoke-filled battleground. A torrent of Rohingyas has tried to flee Rakhine into impoverished Bangladesh, but most are being pushed back, a Bangladeshi Border Guard commander told Reuters on Thursday.

The fighting threatens to derail the democratic transition in Myanmar, a resource-rich nation of 60 million strategically positioned at Asia’s crossroads between India and China, Bangladesh and Thailand. With scores feared dead, President Thein Sein announced a state of emergency on June 10 to prevent “vengeance and anarchy” spreading beyond Rakhine and jeopardizing his ambitious reform agenda.

Reuters visited the area just before the unrest broke out. The northern area of Rakhine state is off-limits to foreign reporters.

Until this month, Myanmar’s transformation from global pariah to democratic start-up had seemed remarkably rapid and peaceful. Thein Sein released political prisoners, relaxed media controls, and forged peace with ethnic rebel groups along the country’s war-torn borders. A new air of hope and bustle in Myanmar’s towns and cities is palpable.

But not in Rakhine, also known as Arakan. It is home to about 800,000 mostly stateless Rohingya, who according to the United Nations are subject to many forms of “persecution, discrimination and exploitation.” These include forced labor, land confiscations, restrictions on travel and limited access to jobs, education and healthcare.

Now, even as the state eases repression of the general populace and other minorities, long-simmering ethnic tensions here are on the boil – a dynamic that resembles what happened when multi-ethnic Yugoslavia fractured a generation ago after communism fell.


Even the democracy movement in Myanmar is doing little to help the Muslim minority, Rohingya politicians say.

Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi last week urged “all people in Burma to get along with each other regardless of their religion and authenticity.” But she has remained “tight-lipped” about the Rohingya, said Kyaw Min, a Rohingya leader and one-time Suu Kyi ally who spent more than seven years as a political prisoner. “It is politically risky for her,” he said.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win wouldn’t comment on Suu Kyi’s position, but said: “The Rohingya are not our citizens.” Suu Kyi is now on a European tour that will take her to Oslo, Norway, to accept the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991.

The violence could disrupt Myanmar’s detente with the West, however. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on June 11 called for “Muslims, Buddhists, and ethnic representatives, including Rohingya . . . to begin a dialogue toward a peaceful resolution.”

The United States suspended some sanctions on Myanmar, including those banning investment, in May as a reward for its democratic reforms. But the White House kept the framework of hard-hitting sanctions in place, with President Barack Obama expressing at the time concern about Myanmar’s “treatment of minorities and detention of political prisoners.”

Unknown-7The European Union, which also suspended its sanctions, said on Monday it was satisfied with Thein Sein’s “measured” handling of the violence, which the president has said could threaten the transition to democracy if allowed to spiral out of control.


Rohingya activists claim a centuries-old lineage in Rakhine, which like the rest of Burma is predominantly Buddhist. The government regards them as illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. “There is no ethnic group named Rohingya in our country,” immigration minister Khin Yi said in May.

Communal tensions had been rising in Myanmar since the gang rape and murder of a Buddhist woman last month that was blamed on Muslims. Six days later, apparently in retribution, a Buddhist mob dragged 10 Muslims from a bus and beat them to death.

Violence then erupted on June 9 in Maungdaw, one of the three Rohingya-majority districts bordering Bangladesh, before spreading to Sittwe, the biggest town in Rakhine. Scores are feared dead, and 1,600 houses burnt down.

One measure of the pressure the Rohingya are under is the growing number of boat people. During the so-called “sailing season” between monsoons, thousands of Rohingya attempt to cross the Bay of Bengal in small, ramshackle fishing boats. Their destination: Muslim-majority Malaysia, where thousands of Rohingya work, mostly illegally.

Last season, up to 8,000 Rohingya boat people – a record number – made the crossing, says Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, a Rohingya advocacy group based in Thailand. She has studied their migration patterns since 2006.


The violence in Rakhine could cause a surge in Rohingya boat people when the next sailing season begins in October, Rohingya leaders say. “The amount of boat people will increase and increase,” said Abu Tahay, chairman of the National Democratic Party for Development, a Rohingya political party.

In what could be the start of a regional refugee crisis, many Rohingya are already attempting the shorter voyage to neighboring Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, like Myanmar, disowns the Rohingyas and has refused to grant them refugee status since 1992. Now, according to a Bangladeshi commander, hundreds have been turned away.

At Shah Pari, a Bangladeshi island on the Naf River dividing Bangladesh and Myanmar, Lieutenant Colonel Zahid Hassan of the Bangladesh Border Guard said the force has sent back 14 wooden country boats since the violence flared in early June, bearing a total of some 700 men, women and children.

Hassan said the boat people were given food, water and medicines before being turned back. His men are now holding back local Bangladeshi villagers and limiting how far fishermen can go out into the river to prevent them from helping would-be “illegal intruders.” Peace has been restored since Myanmar imposed its state of emergency, he said, and his men are telling the boat people it is safe to return.

Asked to explain why majority-Muslim Bangladesh did not feel an obligation to take the Rohingyas in, he said: “This is an over-populated country. The country doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate these additional people.”


Government officials say they already harbor about 25,000 Rohingyas with refugee status, who receive food and other aid from the United Nations, housed in two camps in southeastern Bangladesh. Officials say there are also between 200,000 and 300,000 “undocumented” Rohingyas – with no refugee status and no legal rights. These people live outside the camps, dependent on local Bangladeshis in a poverty-plagued district for work and sustenance.

Among them is 48-year-old Kalim Ullah, a Rohingya father of three living in an unofficial camp where children bathe in a chocolate-brown pond. He fled here in 1992, after violence that followed the watershed 1990 vote won by Suu Kyi and overturned by the military. He holds up a hand to show a half-stump where his thumb had been before he says it was shot off by a Myanmar soldier.

“They tortured me and I was evicted from my house so we came to Bangladesh,” he said. “Now I am waiting for repatriation, I am waiting for democracy in my own country.”

Myanmar’s neighbors have quietly pressed the country to improve conditions in Rakhine to stop the outflow of refugees. Perhaps as a result, Thein Sein’s government this year began easing some travel restrictions, says Rohingya leader Kyaw Min. But these small gains look likely to be suspended or scrapped after the recent bloodshed.

The Rohingya in Myanmar are usually landless as well as stateless, and scratch a living from low-paid casual labor. Four in five households in northern Rakhine State were in debt, the World Food Program reported in 2011. Many families borrow money just to buy food.

Food insecurity had worsened since 2009, said the program, which called for urgent humanitarian assistance. A 2010 survey by the French group Action Against Hunger found a malnutrition rate of 20 percent, which is far above the emergency threshold set by the World Health Organization.


The Rohingya are overseen by the Border Administration Force, better known as the Nasaka, a word derived from the initials of its Burmese name. Unique to the region, the Nasaka consists of officers from the police, military, customs and immigration. They control every aspect of Rohingya life.

“They have total power,” says Abu Tahay, the Rohingya politician.

Documented human-rights abuses blamed on the Nasaka include rape, forced labor and extortion. Rohingya cannot travel or marry without the Nasaka’s permission, which is never secured without paying bribes, activists say.

The former military government has in the past called these allegations “fabrications.”

“There are hundreds of restrictions and extortions,” says Rohingya leader Kyaw Min. “The Nasaka have a free hand because government policy is behind them. And that policy is to starve and impoverish the Rohingya.”

Burmese officials say the tight controls on the borders are essential to national security. Speaking in Myanmar’s parliament last September, immigration minister Khin Yi made no mention of alleged abuses, but said the Nasaka was vital for preventing “illegal Bengali migration” and cross-border crime.


At Takebi’s market, an agitated crowd gathered before the violence erupted to tell a reporter of alleged abuses by the authorities and ethnic Rakhine: a Rohingya rickshaw driver robbed and murdered, extortion by state officials, random beatings by soldiers at a nearby army post. The stories couldn’t be verified.

Some Burmese officials have betrayed bias against the Rohingya in public statements. Rohingya people are “dark brown” and “as ugly as ogres,” said Ye Myint Aung, Myanmar’s consul in Hong Kong, in a 2009 statement. He went on to extol the “fair and soft” complexions of Myanmar people like himself.

Last week, the state-run New Light of Myanmar published a correction after referring to Muslims as “kalar,” a racial slur.

The sectarian hatred in Rakhine towns and villages is echoed online. “It would be so good if we can use this as an excuse to drive those Rohingyas from Myanmar,” one reader of Myanmar’s Weekly Eleven newspaper comments on the paper’s website.

“Annihilate them,” writes another.

A nationalist group has set up a Facebook page called the “Kalar Beheading Gang,” which has almost 600 “likes.”

Meanwhile, the Kaladan Press, a news agency set up by Rohingya exiles in the Bangladesh city of Chittagong, blamed the violence on “Rakhine racists and security personnel.”


Not far from Sittwe is Gollyadeil, a fishing village with a jetty of packed mud and a mosque that locals say dates back to the 1930s. The stateless Rohingya villagers here face fewer restrictions than their brethren in the sensitive border area to the north. They can marry without seeking official permission and travel freely around Sittwe district.

Even so, jobs are scarce and access to education limited, and every year up to 40 villagers head out to sea on Malaysia-bound boats. They each pay about 200,000 kyat, or $250, a small fortune by local standards. But the extended Rohingya families who raise the sum regard it as an investment.

“If they make it to Malaysia, they can send home a lot of money,” says fishmonger Abdul Gafar, 35.

Many Rohingya in Myanmar depend upon remittances from Malaysia and Thailand. A Takebi elder with a white beard tinged red from betel-nut juice said he gets 100,000 kyat ($125) every four months from his son, a construction worker in Malaysia.

Remittances have lent a deceptive veneer of prosperity to Takebi, where a few houses have tin roofs or satellite dishes.

Ask shopkeeper Mohamad Ayub, 19, how many villagers want to leave Gollyadeil, and he replies, “All of us.”

For every Rohingya who makes it to Malaysia, hundreds are blocked, or worse.

Many are arrested before even leaving Myanmar waters. Others are intercepted by the Thai authorities, who last year were still towing Rohingya boats back out to sea, Human Rights Watch reported, “despite allegations that such practices led to hundreds of deaths in 2008 and 2009.”

“When someone tries to enter the country illegally, it’s our job to send them back,” says Major General Manas Kongpan, a regional director of Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command, which handles the boat people. “Thailand doesn’t have the capacity to take them in, so people shouldn’t criticize so much.”

Sayadul Amin, 16, set sail in March 2012 in a fishing boat crammed with 63 people, a third of them boys and girls. The weather turned bad, and Sayudul’s boat was pounded by waves.

“I felt dizzy and wanted to throw up,” he said.

By day five, they ran out of water and his friend, also a teenager, died. They prayed over his body, he said, then tossed it overboard.


The boat eventually ran aground somewhere on Myanmar’s Andaman coast, where local villagers summoned the authorities to arrest the boat people.

The adults were jailed in the southern Myanmar town of Dawei, while immigration officials escorted Sayadul and the other minors back to Sittwe by bus. The journey took several days and he saw more of Myanmar than most Rohingya ever do. “There were satellite dishes on all the houses,” he said with wonder.

On her historic visit to Myanmar last year, Hillary Clinton praised the country’s leaders for trying to resolve decades-old wars between government troops and ethnic rebel armies. But the Rohingya stir far greater nationalist passions that could prove even more destabilizing and intractable than conflicts in Kachin State and other ethnic border regions.

Rohingya leaders have long called for the scrapping of the 1982 Citizenship Law, which was enacted by the former dictatorship and rendered stateless even Rohingya who had lived in Myanmar for generations.

“We are demanding full and equal citizenship,” says Kyaw Min, the Rohingya leader.

Judging by the inflammatory rhetoric pervading Myanmar, that demand is unlikely to be met before next year’s potentially controversial census.

The last one, in 1983, left the Rohingya uncounted.


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