Narinjara news


Burmese junta’s false promises and ‘black magic’ land


Rakhine families from Bangladesh into big trouble


Teknaf, 5 February:  At least three Rakhine families from Bangladesh who were lured into traps by the Burmese junta have returned to their home country on 20th December 2002, according to our correspondent from the border areas.


The three families led by U Tha Gyaw Oo from Rangamati Hill District in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh moved for resettlement at the Burmese junta constructed model village named Wethali (Vaisali), three miles from Maungdaw – the border town on the Burmese side of the Naaf River.   


They along with nearly one hundred families from Bandarban hill district and Cox’s Bazaar district went there for resettlement through a migration scheme arranged by the Burmese junta, SPDC, in January 2001.  The Burmese junta is said to have promised each of the family with one house, two acres of paddy land, two cattle and three months’ full ration if they were willing to settle in the model villages built near the border with Bangladesh.


When the migrant families reached Wethali village, each of the families were given a sixty ft by forty ft bamboo house that consisted of nine wooden pillars and nine windows.  On each side of the village street there were a row of nine such houses facing each other, totalling forty-five houses in the entire village.  It is said that the village itself was built on an old cremation ground.  All the houses were distributed among the Rakhine migrants from Bangladesh.   According to the traditional belief of the Burmese people, the construction of the village on the cremation ground coupled with the use of the number ‘nine’ denotes a superstitious act of black magic, popularly known as yattara, again and again resorted to by ruling Burmese juntas beginning with the dictator Ne Win who recently died.  The use of ‘nine’ windows, number of houses in each row, and the total number of 45 houses (4+5=9), all indicate the way the Burmese junta has turned to for performing the yattara required to prevent Rakhine from becoming eminent in the world scenario,  as prophesied in old manuscrips, many astrologers believe.


For three months they were given rice ration, while the junta officials never bothered to give them either any paddy land to cultivate or any cattle to be used in farming.  When the villagers became dissatisfied with what the junta had promised them earlier, the junta leader Khin Nyunt visited the village in December 2001, and distributed ten pedicabs (three-wheelers) among the villagers, winners chosen by lots.  Two months later, members of the Military Intelligence 18 at Maungdaw came to the villagers and demanded a monthly toll of three thousand five hundred kyat from each of the pedicabs.  By the end of the month no villager was able to meet their demand, so the MI agents confiscated all the pedicabs, leaving nothing to earn for a living for the villagers. 


Not only that. The villagers were also conscripted for forced labour in constructing military quarters and roads.  The picture of the Burmese settlers brought from Rangoon and other big cities were different – they were given regular rationing and special facilities for children’s schooling and medical care.


The migrant settlers from Bangladesh were not given any national registration card, too, alleged some of the returnees.  That way they could not also move to towns and cities for earning a livelihood.  Starvation, disease and lack of future compelled those migrants make way for their ancestral homes.  The Burmese junta’s tall promises turned out to be big bluffs at last when the villagers were left with no other option than coming back home, sources said.  #