Narinjara news

Curfew in Sittwe, west Burma

Sittwe, 2 December:  Curfew has been imposed in the western Burmese town of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine (Arakan) State since last week, after a tense situation arising from the rape of a Rakhine girl and killing of two persons by a group of Muslim fishermen, according to our correspondent.

A group of Muslim Rohingya fishermen stopped and attacked a motorised boat heading from Ngarichaung Village of Middle Farunga Island (south to Sittwe) towards the capital.  The boat was carrying a Rakhine mother (40) and her daughter (15) aboard. The Muslim fishermen took control of the boat and without warning some of them started to attack the two boatmen with knives, chopping the mother and two boatmen, while the three other Muslim fishermen used force to rape the teenage girl.  Meanwhile, one of the boatmen was able to escape the scene with serious wounds.  He was later saved by another boat passing and was admitted into the State Hospital in Sittwe. 

As the news spread, a large number of the students of Sittwe University got enraged and began to gather to “take action against the perpetrators”.  Fearing a disturbance the authority in the town interfered to disperse the students and bring order in the campus.  They also hastily conducted the ongoing annual examinations and forced the students pack up their belongings and leave the campus. 

The intervention by the authority finally brought the situation under control. Since then there has been a curfew imposed and movements restricted in the town, according to a townsman reached through phone.  The dead bodies of a boatman and the mother have been recovered but the teenage girl is still missing, according to police source.

Last month five Rohingya youths raped two Rakhine teenage girls in Maungdaw Township, close to the Bangladesh-Burma border. The news stirred up widescale discontent among the majority Rakhine community of the state. Many of the concerned Rakhine citizens in the western Burmese state more and more feel worried for these untoward incidents that may at any time lead to impatience between the two Buddhist and Muslim communities, leading to large scale violence, a retired police officer said.

In February 2001, a race riot broke out in Sittwe following Muslim Rohingya youths teasing a Rakhine girl.  In the aftermath the police with the help of Burmese military troops nabbed hundreds of Rakhine youths as young as ten year olds who have gone missing ever since.  #