Narinjara News

Harassment at Nasaka Tollgate at Ann Pass: Deliberate attempt by the Burmese junta to wipe out minority business community?

Sittwe, 27 August 02:
On August 2 the Nasaka security forces deployed at #25 toll post at Ann, where the Western Command is headquartered, confiscated ten motorbikes legally imported from China through Lashio, in the Northern Shan State, according to our correspondent quoting a top businessman who declined to identify.

Though the bikes had clearances of tax and customs duties paid at Lashio, they were confiscated without any apparent reason. At present the value of the bikes stands at Kyat 3.9 million.

Because of the necessary clearances for the transport of the consignment of the bikes, they had been allowed passage through the tollgates and checkpoints at Mandalay, Mittila, Myin-khan, Magwe, Minbu, etc. in Burma proper before they reached Ann, whereas at the entry point to Rakhine State they were illegitimately confiscated by the members of the Nasaka security forces. The owner of the consignment of motorbikes is U Aye Tun son of U Aung Mra Tun of Chinbyan Street, Kundan Quarter of Sittwe in Rakhine State while the carrier was U Kyaw Kyaw, a Burmese from Aung Se Than (literally, sound of the victory drum) Transport Terminal, Mandalay. The guards at the tollgate brushed the repeated pleadings of the Burmese transport owner aside, the source said.

On the previous day, a consignment of two hundred Ship brand nylon-fishing nets was also confiscated from Roma Swan-ein transport, No. 4 kha/3877, driven by Khin Maung Htay at the same gate. Across Burma the nylon fishing nets are freely transported and sold without any hindrance because they are not banned items, but as soon as they enter into Rakhine State they are confiscated. Worse, there is no explanation as to why such legally bought and carried things should be confiscated.

The Burmese Junta have firmly established monopoly over all the trade and commerce of Rakhine State in the western part of Burma,” said another top businessman from Rangoon to our correspondent on telephone.

“Because of the total control over and illegal toll collections from all the private business houses, big and small, practised by the Burmese junta, more and more of the business concerns in Rakhine State are being forced to shut up shop everyday and move elsewhere to Burma proper including Rangoon and Mandalay,” he added. “A large percentage of the businessmen in Sittwe have already been forced to mortgage their valuables including their own houses to private banks and moneylenders finding no other way to survive because of the oppressive measures and intermittent collection of illegal tolls by the officials of the ruling Burmese junta across the state.”

Increasing numbers of such incidents have rendered the Rakhine business community much disturbed and nervous of continuing business in the state. “Sometimes I wonder if this is a methodical policy of the present military junta of eradicating the Rakhine businessmen from the scene, which will spell disaster for the economic backbone of Rakhine State and its people. If the junta have any such ulterior motives, we’ll be wiped out sooner rather than later. We the businessmen here consider it to be a campaign of systematic ethnocide,” the businessman added.

The Burmese junta for realization of duties and taxes has set up the Gate #25, it was learnt. But recently the guards at the gate have started checking people, demanding illegal tolls and bribes for passage. A Rangoon doctor who recently travelled through the gate with his family told our correspondent that, at the gate he was detained for an hour and forced to pay bribe for his child’s Chinese bicycle they were bringing from Rangoon because he could not show the cash memo of the same to the guards! #