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Regime accused of forcing Rohingya to protest against Arakan Army

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

A group of Rohingya in Buthidaung Township of northern Arakan State staged a protest against the Arakan Army (AA) on Tuesday. They reportedly arrived in the town in 10 separate vehicles carrying signs in Burmese that stated: “We don’t want war” and “No AA.” 

“The military is trying to create racial riots as it is losing the war,” said Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya human rights activist and founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition.

“The military brought them from villages with vehicles and forced them to protest by threatening them that their homes might be burned down if they did not join the demonstration. I heard that the military arranged sign boards for days before the protest,” he added. 

Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya civil society leader and the National Unity Government (NUG) Deputy Minister of Human Rights, told DVB that it is unlikely that protests could have occurred without the regime’s backing, as it has restricted the movement and freedom of expression of Rohingya for several decades. 

“Suddenly, hundreds of young people including kids, [have] come to the streets to protest against the AA? It is not possible [under] any circumstance. It is artificial and the [regime] has been pushing and creating all this chaos and all these protests to create inter-communal tension,” he said.

Aung Kyaw Moe accused the Burma Army of attempting to use the Rohingya protests to incite communal tensions with the ethnic Rakhine as a divide-and-rule tactic. The U.N. states that 630,000 stateless Rohingya live in Myanmar, including the 120,000 Rohingya which have resided in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps since 2012, deprived of citizenship from successive military regimes.

Video footage and photos from the March 19 Rohingya protest against the AA have circulated online by pro-military accounts. The Burma Army has recently been accused of forcefully conscripting Rohingya into military service. The Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK) President Tun Khin told DVB that 97 Rohingya have been killed following military training.

The regime in Naypyidaw has cut off telecommunication services in Maungdaw district, which includes Buthidaung Township of Arakan State, since the AA resumed its fight against the military on Nov. 13.

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