Narinjara News


Akyab, May 10



Arakan Becomes the Land of Crime Due to Economic Hardship


 In Arakan State in western Burma, crimes have become endemic due to the economic hardships experienced by its people, said a retired police officer from the state capital, Akyab.


He commented on the rise of crime rates in the state. “Recently, robbery and theft have been very widespread throughout the state. In Boutheedaung, Rathaedaung  and Maungdaw {the northern districts of the state], many of the groups participating in armed robbery are very active. One group is said to consist of 20 to 25 people.”


After the junta coup in 1988, the military personnel killed those directly involved in robberies without any judicial measures such as trials. Hence, there had been a period with almost no robberies to report. However, lately there has been a surge of incidents of armed robbery in Arakan.


“The main reason (for the surge of armed robberies), I think, is the dire poverty that people are facing. There is almost no business nor jobs for the people. Especially after the dissolution of the Intelligence Apparatus by the junta, the State economy dove into a problem.


The whole economy had been running in close association with Military Intelligence agents and their cronies. When these agents were all arrested, all the economic activities stalled. So people have to find a way to solve their needs,” said a staff member from Akyab based at Inn Poat Wa Company, one of the largest business ventures in Arakan.


Arakanese business people could export salt, food products and commodities to Bangladesh legally with the help of the Intelligence agents who took some bribes so as to pass through the necessary red tape. This cooperation had also worked for the imports from Bangladesh to Burma. However, such cooperation does not currently existent hence, the Arakanese business people are not able to work successfully.


There is also a problem with the illegal lottery called Chae.


A trader from Akyab commented on Chae, saying that “two digits, three digit lotteries are worst. People see this Chae lottery as their way out of poverty and off the streets of Akyab, since every town has Chae. Everyone, including the government senior officers, is only interested in Chae. There are many fights and conflicts deriving from this illegal Chae lottery. This leads to a lot of crime.”


Playing Chae has caused some people to lose their homes and other property, and many social conflicts have arisen as a result of this addictive gambling. But the authority has not done anything to solve these problems.


Arakan State is rampant with Chae, theft and robbery due to the economic problems. Arakan, once known for its pious religiosity as the Land of the Great Image (referring to the Mahamuni Buddha image in Arakan), now has become the Land of Many Crimes. #


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