By Kyaw Kyaw Htay | The Rohingya Post
Minbya, Arakan State — Hundreds of rebels of ‘Arakan Army (AA),’ a Rakhine Buddhist rebel group, and Rakhine Buddhist people have put a Rohingya village in Minbya Township under total siege since July 24, 2021, making its villagers run out of essential supplies and sealing the mosques off while also torturing the villagers in them (the mosques), local sources reported.
The Rakhine rebels started to arrive at ‘Let Ma’ village (also known as Lumbashor in Rohingya) in Minbya Township through three fronts on July 24 and turned the mosques in the village their camp base. After that, Rakhine extremists surrounding villages were reported to have besieged the village from all sides.
The apparent reason is behind the siege and tortures of the villagers – old, young, men and women alike – the villagers not living up to a ransom demand made by the AA rebels from those conducting ‘Kurbaan’ on Eidul Adha (i.e. sacrificing animals and distributing meats to the poor as an Islamic religious duty) and but the moves seem more likely to upscale violence and uproot the Rohingya village than just reactions to not fulfilling their demands.
“Before Eidul Adha that fell on July 21, the rebels demanded each and every household making Kurbaan (conducting animal sacrifices) in the village Kyat 15,000 be paid and 3 Kilograms of pure meats (beef or mutton) be given (to them) but the villagers apparently didn’t pay up the ransom money and the pure meat that they demanded. After that, since July 24, they have started to besiege the village.
“The AA rebels came in three groups from three sides and encamped inside the Masjids (Mosques) in the village and sealed them off from the villages from offering prayers. They initially claimed that they only came to capture 12 people – who were on their list – in the village and once they could do that, they would leave. So, they detained the family members and relatives — men and women including children — of these 12 villagers in the mosques, left them hungry for the whole day and tortured them. When the villagers persuaded the rebels, they released them. But they were detained again and the villagers are being tortured” said a local in the region asking to withhold his identity.
Besides, the rebels are said to have been seizing the livestock — cattle and goats — owned the (Rohingya) villagers and eating them up. The villagers also need to cook and provide meals to them regularly, while the whole village is still under siege.
“The way they are behaving is like they want to force the villager to react by pushing them to the extreme end. So, once the villagers react, they could use it as justification to upscale the violence. So, they are besieging the village and preventing people from moving in and out of their homes; cutting off essential supplies; detaining and torturing men, women, children and abusing the places of worship and more. In the absence of the Myanmar military, the AA rebels are making everything sure that Rohingya Genocide survivors do not have a breathing space,” said another Rohingya implying that the situation is more serious than it actually appears.
Since the February 1 coup by the Myanmar military and the mainland Myanmar falling into chaos, the fighting between the military and the Rakhine rebels (‘Arakan Army’) stopped in Arakan State and the rebels virtually took control of northern Arakan state where majority of Rohingya Genocide survivors live. While the world turns its attention to the violence on the civilians by the Burmese military and a raging Covid-19 pandemic in the mainland, in Arakan State, the Rakhine rebels are committing atrocities against the Rohingya survivors from kidnapping and torturing them, extorting ransom money, rapes on women and girls, imposing arbitrary taxation, besieging villages to abusing religious places. The survivors, out of fear of getting subjected to an increased violence, are reluctant to report the atrocities committed on them.
Currently, the siege on the village is ongoing and those still detained by the rebels in the mosques have still been in detention for three days. And due to heavy rain, there is a looming danger of flood in the village. In the case of a flood, the villagers will face a catastrophic situation as they are blockaded by the rebels from taking preventive measures.
According to latest reports, more and more AA rebels are arriving and the villagers were apparently told that they needed to leave their houses for the river banks so that the rebels could conduct clearance operations. Such a move is being seen as a move aimed to uproot the Rohingya village, one of few surviving Rohingya villages in the Township.
[Edited by M.S. Anwar]