Temporary Registration Cards’ for Rohingya

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Burmese military junta is issuing ‘Temporary Registration Cards’ (TRCs) which is called white card to the Rohingya community since the last week of August, said a local in Maungdaw.

Issuing TRCs to Rohingyas started on August 22, in Shweza Village tract. It is being issued from the age group of 10, he said.

“In the TRCs, the authorities did not write what the Rohingya community desired. They have been described as Bengalis, but we are Rohingya,” said a student in Shweza village.

“The authorities charged Kyat 3000 per person, which is very high for the poor Rohingya to dole out,” he added.

“However, the official charge for TRCs is only 500 Kyat,” he more added.

When asked the village authorities said, “We collected 3000 Kyat as fees, food and other expenditure for officers who are working on this project.”

In Shweza village tract, around 1000 TRCs were issued, but some people who were unable to pay, did not get the cards.

The Rohingya are denied National Registration Cards (NRCs) or Citizenship Scrutiny Cards (CSCs), which are issued to all other Burmese citizens. Instead they are being given Temporary Registration Cards (TRCs).

“Why are the authorities denying us NRCs or CSCs. We were born here and grew up here and will die here. We have our history which proves we are an indigenous people, who were recognized by the previous democratic government,” said a school teacher in Maungdaw.

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Village authorities frame villager

Maungdaw, Arakan State: A villager, who opposed the activities of the village authorities, was charged with robbery and handed over to the concerned authorities, said a local elder in Maungdaw.

The villager, Mohamed Yakub, is simple and a religious teacher, hailing from Asshapara (Labowza Kayoungdan). He always opposed the village authorities, whenever they took money to settle village disputes, the elder said.

The village authorities are always up to illegal activity. When Yakub extended his house, they informed Burma’s border security force, Nasaka. He was arrested and fined Kyat 100,000 for building without permission, said a school teacher from the village.

Extension of existing houses does not require permission from any authority, the teacher said.

The accused shaved his beard and tore his religious clothes and said he would fight for justice, where he will hold a sword in his hand, the teacher added.

Every body, especially the village authorities avoided him unable to face him after his declaration. On September 7, some village children organized by the village authorities, disturbed Yakub. Enraged he attacked the children. The village authorities taking advantage of this called the Nasaka and complained that he was trying to rob villagers, said a village elder.

“Who is the robber, the civilians or the authorities, who have the power to rob villagers?” the elder asked.

Yakub was tortured in the camp of the Nasaka and a case filed against him. He was sent to the police station in Maungdaw.

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Authorities extort money on new pretext from Rohingya community

In Northern Arakan, the mobile has become a tool for the local authorities to extort money from the Rohingya community, according to Kamal, a student from Maungdaw.

“It is only aimed at the Rohingya community,” he said.

A mobile is not easy to acquire in Burma and one has to deposit a huge amount of money to the authorities to get permission. It only functions in Burma proper and not in border areas like Northern Arakan, where most Rohingya ethnic people live, he said.

However, in Northern Arakan, most people use Bangladeshi mobile phones to communicate, which is illegal in Burma.

The authorities from Northern Arakan have legalized the illegal mobiles by demanding money from the Rohingya community, in the form of monthly rent. Some officers also use it as a tool to earn easy money, Kamal pointed out.

Most of the officers and the members of the Rakhine community use Bangladeshi mobile phones easily, without any harassment from any quarter and it is not illegal for them to use it in Burma, he said, explaining the system in Northern Arakan.

Some high level border security officers also use this strategy in their respective areas to earn easy money.

Similarly, the Burmese border security force, Nasaka Sector number six Commander, Major Nay Myo used this system in his area to extort money: Kyat 100,000 from Hafiz Sham Shu, son of Syed Karim on August 25, Kyat 150,000 from Mvi Abdul Salam, son of Afzol on August 26, Kyat 430,000 from Mohammed Nur, son of Syed Nur, on September 2, Kyat 250,000 from Mohamed Salay, son of Ismail on September 8, and Kyat 500,000 needed to release Abu Siddique, son of Abul Kassim, since he had earlier been arrested.

Other cases had also been filed under false allegations of using illegal Bangladeshi mobile phones and other commanders are using tactics to rent mobiles by force, from the wealthy people in the area, on a monthly rent of Kyat 100,000.

Some commanders seized mobiles from the local Rohingya people with the help of their collaborators, who use these same phones secretly. After the phones were seized, the user had to pay huge amounts of money or serve a jail term, Kamal said.

In one place, there are two systems for using Bangladeshi mobile phones. One system is to use it freely like officers and the Rakhine community and another system is to pay money to use these Bangladeshi mobiles. This is blatant discrimination and harassment for the Rohingya community, Kamal said.

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