• Wednesday, Dec 07, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Rohingya villagers blockaded amid fresh tensions in Rakhine

  • Published at 11:26 am August 23rd, 2017
Rohingya villagers blockaded amid fresh tensions in Rakhine

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims have been blockaded inside their area by their Buddhist neighbours in a western Myanmar village, residents say, as religious tensions in troubled Rakhine state spread to a more ethnically mixed part of the region.

Monitors and aid workers worry that violence that has until now been largely confined to the Rohingya-majority northern part of Rakhine, could erupt in an area where the two communities live side-by-side in much larger numbers.

Residents, aid workers and monitors told reporters that Muslims in the village of Zay Di Pyin had been blocked from going to work or fetching food and water for the last three weeks, although a small number had been allowed through the blockade to buy provisions on Tuesday.

Police said Rakhine Buddhist villagers were restricting the amount of food the Rohingya could buy, but denied their movement around the village and access to work had been blocked.

"I think they are just afraid and aren't going out," said Myanmar police headquarters spokesman Colonel Myo Thu Soe.

The government said it was working to improve security in the area.


Also Read- IOM: 87,000 Myanmar nationals entered Bangladesh in 10 months


Food scarcity

In another incident that has added to tensions in the area, residents in the neighbouring village of Auk Nan Yar, where the Rohingya are the majority, said they were being prevented from leaving their village by security forces.

It follows a confrontation in early August between hundreds of Muslims and security forces who were trying to arrest six Rohingya men accused of raising money for militants. In a separate incident on that day seven Buddhists were killed in a different part of northern Rakhine.

In the week following the incidents, Suu Kyi convened a high-level security meeting in the capital Naypyitaw and declared a curfew in the area, while the army sent some 500 soldiers to reinforce around August 10.


Also Read- Is the Myanmar Army resorting to new tactics to mask a crackdown?


Police said the military was conducting a "clearance operation" in the nearby Mayu mountain range, where the government suspects Rohingya insurgents have been training.

"The nearby villagers were warned to be careful when they go out to the mountains in order to avoid getting arrested by mistake," said spokesman Myo Thu Soe.

Two villagers from Auk Nan Yar told Reuters that they too were now unable to get to a market to buy food or to work.

"Now we're sharing the food we have left with each other in the village," said one of the villagers. "We don't know how long the food will last."

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