Narinjara news

Muslims pay rice for Burmese settlers

Maungdaw, 18th November:    Muslim villagers living in Maungdaw Township in the western Burma bordering with Bangladesh have been forced to give rice to the Burmese junta officials for the upkeep of the Burmese settlers in the area - our correspondent reported quoting a Muslim leader in the area.  Beginning 1995 a number of model villages have been built around Maungdaw Town for the Burmese settlers brought in by the ruling Burmese junta.

Each of the Muslim families in the villages around Padummala village situated 10 miles south of Maungdaw Town has been ordered by the Burmese junta officials to pay illegal toll in rice.  The amount each family should contribute has been fixed at fifteen baskets (about 180 kilo) for the present season.

The Burmese settlers brought in during 1995-96 are mostly composed of homeless people.  “Many of them are single persons either jobless or of doubtful livelihood”, said a village elder in the area and hinted that “many are believed to have had connections with crime in Burma proper.” 

Each of the settlers was given three acres of paddy land, a buffalo cart, and a pair of bullocks.  For all the settler families, houses with corrugated iron sheet roof were also made by the junta officials.  Interestingly, as most of the settlers were unskilled at working for a livelihood.  Soon many were forced to sell the corrugated iron sheets for buying food.  Many have so far surreptitiously left for their old home in Burma proper including Rangoon and Mandalay.

Today these settlers have become a heavy burden upon the Muslim and Buddhist villagers living nearby since they have to do all the agricultural works for them besides paying rice as ordered by the local Burmese junta for them.   #