Arakanese women who were planning to rally in Sittwe to highlight ‘threats to their security’ were prevented from demonstrating by police after the slogans they submitted for review contained incendiary language targeting the area’s Rohingya minority.
The demonstration was originally planned for 30 September and was being organised by members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Rakhine [Arakan] Nationalities Development Party (RNDP).
However, the rally leaders were not given the necessary permission to demonstrate after submitting their slogans to authorities for review in line with the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.
“We’ve agreed to change the slogans: one calling on the OIC [Organisation of Islamic Cooperation] not to ‘meddle’ to ‘OIC-NO’ and a second one that [described Rohingyas as] ‘eating the leather that they sleep on’ to ‘Please help assist the Bengalis to resettle in a third-country,’” said organiser Nyo Aye.
The latter is a Burmese phrase referring to the perceived behaviour of a dog.
The local police commander Nay Myo said he would be in contact with the group in two weeks after reviewing the changes to the slogans.
Organisers of the demonstration submitted eight slogans for review including, ‘Respect the 1982 Citizen Law’, ‘No illegal immigrants’, ‘Rohingyas never existed in Burma’, ‘For the splendour and safety of Burmese women’ and ‘All Burmese people unite!’
According to organisers, the rally was expected to gather about 200 women, including NLD and RNDP members from Sittwe.
Nyo Aye said the rally aimed to support Arakanese women who were traumatised by June’s rioting, which pitted Buddhist Arakanese against Muslim Rohingyas, leaving dozens dead and more than 60,000 people displaced, according to government figures.
RNDP affiliates have a history of targeting the Rohingya group, which is denied citizenship under Burma’s controversial 1982 Citizenship Law. In July, security forces briefly detained two RNDP members in Arakan state’s Mrauk-U township for urging Arakanese rice mill owners not to sell their goods to Rohingyas.