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Saturday, August 18, 2012

YDA , Vice President, Khaing Kyaw Moe interviewed by freelance Journalist


On June 8, 2012, Ethnic Rakhaings were massacred around MaungDaw, Arakan State, Burma. After Friday prayer in the mosque, Rohinja Bengalis Muslim started premeditated attacks against ethnic minority Rakhaing and Burmese settlers. The eye witnesses were asked to share their experience. This is one of them,
Journalist: I am Khaing Thurein and I am freelance journalist, I came to Maungdaw today and I came from Yangoon. I want to share my experience with international community so that they understand the real situation of Maungdaw and Buthedaung, Can you introduce yourself and what you are doing in the community?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: My name is Khaing Kyaw Moe, Four months ago, I founded an association called YDA Youth Development Association, Maungdaw. So currently I am vice president of that Organization. Now I am giving some kinds of assistance and aids to the refugees.
Journalist: So you are teaching or doing something?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Yeah, I am also, I have been teaching English here for nearly 2 months in Buthedaung and Maungdaw. I used to have 500 students before this conflict. Now it has already been destroyed because of this conflict.
Journalist: So, you just postponed?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Yeah, I postponed the program. Now I am helping these refugees here.
Journalist: So, you are not from here, you are not local person from Maungdaw?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Actually, I was born here. But I have been in Yangoon for 12 years. And I used to be a political prisoner. Now I have been released only for six months.
Journalist: Ok, So when the conflict happened like a burning houses, a very risky situation happened. So at that time, you are in Maungdaw, right?
Khaing Kyaw Moe:  Yeah, Exactly.
Journalist: So, Can you tell me what had happened and now it started?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Ok, so it was on Friday. 8th of June, This month, actually, it was touched at the spur of the moment. Most people didn’t expect this kind of chaotic situation to happen in Maungdaw. It happened after the Bengalis Muslim (so called Rohinja) gathered in the biggest mosque in Maungdaw, downtown area.  Their reason is that they would like to pray for these people who were recently killed in Taungoke. So this is their reason. But it come out that it is not actually. It is plot. As soon as they had finished their gathering on Friday. May be around about 1:30 pm 0r 2:00 pm, they started to get out of the mosque. And they gathered, may be nearly 5000 people on the road, they were running  and they started throwing stones to the local Rakhaing people houses and they started to burn for this quarter. This is the first quarter burnt down by the Bengali Muslim people.
Journalist: Did the local Rakhaing People fight back?
Khaing Kyaw Moe:  Actually the Arakanese people were not ready on that day. They were shocked, ok? They didn’t know what to do, first of all. But they had to hold some weapon just like wooden sticks and some swords. These kinds of things they grabbed. They were ready to protect their own family on front of their respective houses. That’s it; actually, they were not ready. They are shocked.
Journalist: How is the population ratio in Maungdaw currently?
Khaing Kyaw Moe:  It’s not officially record, Even the government does not have an exact population record.  The ratio is 95 % Muslim here. Bengali Muslim people here. And only 5 % is Rakhaing (including some government officials here). May be 30,000 people in Maungdaw (Non-Muslim).
Journalist: Do you think all Bengali people or some extremist like a burning houses and killing people?
Khaing Kyaw Moe:  Actually this is extremist act. This is not what innocent people do. What they have done is completely wrong and on the other hand, they are fabricating some news that they have been wronged to cover up what they have done. For example, minority people. This is very clear obviously. Minority people are Rakhaing people in Maungdaw. I have already mentioned the ratio about 5 %. They are the majority. Bengali Muslims are majority here. This is not based on race or religion. But if you see roughly, may be it seems like religion and radical problem. But it is not. It is like invasions. What I heard from Bangladeshi news sources because some Rakhaing people in Bangladesh keep giving me some information since 8th june. What they are talking about is that there is a connection between RSO (Rohinja Solidarity Organization) and the people (Rohinja Bangali) who are the backseat drivers in Maungdaw. They are rich people. For example, like Dr. Tun Aung who is now arrested by authorities and now he is being interrogated and he is custody. So these kinds of people are controlling this Muslim society to start the fighting. They would like to create radical and religious problem. Actually they would like to invade this land. Because they have seen green grass and green water in Maungdaw. Because we are only the minority people here. We have so many green fields for them to live here. Actually it started not just now. It has started since 1942. We have many historical records for that.
Journalist: Before I came here and before the conflict started here, I have read a lot of documents and articles on international websites especially in English. They mentioned that Arakanese racists and extremists are burning Bengali houses and killing innocent Bengali people. What is your opinion on that?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: It is ridiculous. I would like to say it is ridiculous. It is nonsense. What is really happening is not like that. Actually Bengali, Muslims are burning down Arakanese Houses. When they got away from their houses because of the authority forces, they did something wrong first, later they were afraid of the authorities because they were some special security force that came here on that day. So they fled. When they fled their houses, they started to burn down their houses too. And they fabricated the news, you know, using some UN internet server. Because most of the high ranking officials in NGOs and international NGOs are Muslim Bengalis. So they have more chance, you know, using internet and to fabricate the news. So it is fabrication. So I would like to invite international community if possible. Come here and just look at what is really happening here.
Journalist: So the people are running (around in fare) currently. Arakanese people are also running. They have no job right now. Though security guys are coming in and taking care of, do you think it is ok for them (ethnic Rakhaing) to live safely for long time?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: It is imposible from my point of view. Because the most important thing for the resettlement is (security). Now the government is trying normalize this situation. I would like to say this is by force. The people from Villages which were burnt down by Muslim Bengalis are in shock currently. You can see them in the refugee camp. There are so many children, and some infants. Some old people are there. So there are very shocked to go back and the resettle in their native places and native villages. Now they don’t want to go there. But they are also afraid of authority. (Authorities are like) Come on. You have to go. We would provide some food and shelter. But it’s not enough. What we have to think it that guaranteed security. In other word, we have to say sustainable security. The people won’t leave (the camp) as far as I understand, if there is no guaranteed security by the government officials. Because it is very important. If we want our people to live here (in Maungdaw) for long run we need security forces to protect our people from this kind of dangerous anarchy things. This is kind of anarchy work.
Journalist: So the local people are moving to Sittwe and Yangoon also. I have seen some people on the jetty.
Khaing Kyaw Moe: It is ture.
Journalist: How can we make them to stay here in Maungdaw to live without fear for danger? What would be your point of view on that?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Ok, First of all, what I would like to put is that security is No 1. If we would to move them to original places like a villages. Ok it is quick easy to build their houses with the money from different donors around Myanmar and around the world and by the government. It is quiet easy to build the houses that they have lost in burning down. But the most crucial thing is security. Security is very important. If we can’t guarantee security, they won’t live in these places. They were abandon their villages and they will move away even though the government prevents them not to get away from this Maungdaw areas. So may be 5 years later, just think about that, ok? What will happen? There will not be any indigenous native here.
Journalist: Currently, Bengali people in other countries especially in Western countries are demonstrating, stop genocide in Arakan, stop killing Rohingya! What do you think about that?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Actually you know, Muslim people are trying to kill a lot of people. There is a very good example in 1994. What happen in Rwanda? Actually they are killing Arakanese people. Arakanese people are minority in Maungdaw.  We have no weapon no gun, ok? Even the sword we have is not sharp. It’s blunt already. Because we use it only for cleaning fish or something like that so it is very laughable, you know. It is ridiculous. We are not killing these people.
Journalist: So it is not like Arakanese people are burning down Bengali houses and killing them and fight back to each other, not like that currently?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: No. Not like that. Actually we are protecting ourselves. We are protecting our family, our young children, our young generation, our mother, our parents. We have to protect these people. Actually we are not fighting back, you see, this is Arakanese houses burnt down by the Bengali Muslim. It is very good example.
Journalist: So How many villages were burnt?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: Nearly 15 villages from the south of Maungdaw that were completely burnt down and some people were injured. Some people were killed on the spot.
Journalist: So how can we stop this conflict as soon as possible?
Khaing Kyaw Moe: ok, now it’s rainy season. The weather now is very capricious in these situations. So the refugees have difficult to go back and to restart their new life without help from the government and international society. So I would like to invite some international community to come and look. Have a look at people and please listen to what they would like to present about their feeling. So it is the reality. So what we need is I have already mentioned many times. Security is very important, if the government would like to these people to live here, security is important.
As a minority, ethnic Rakhaing and Burmese people are still afraid to go back to their home. Many people were moving to other towns in Arakan and Burmese proper even more decreasing the number of Arakanese in Maungdaw and Buthedaung and making more vulnerable to the poor Rakhaing who can’t afford to move.

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