Monday, 10 August 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Tactical Operation Commander (TOC) of the Burmese Army in Buthidaung Town seized a Rohingya cemetery in Aley Than Kyaw, Maungdaw Township on June 19, villagers from Aley Than Kyaw said. 
 
On June 19, morning, the TOC officer along with other army officers went to Aley Than Kyaw village in a convoy of army cars and surveyed the graveyard in Aley Than Kyaw. They ordered nearby villagers not to bury their dead in the cemetery. The officer also said that if any one does not comply with the order, he would be punished according to the law, said a village elder on condition of anonymity.
 
The TOC Commander himself created a boundary around the cemetery with red flags. Villagers were surprised because they were not given advance information. The TOC officer came suddenly and made a boundary in the Rohingyas’ old cemetery.
 
In northern Arakan, there are many available places to set up army camps or other establishments. Why do the authorities want to seize a Muslim cemetery attacking their religion? asked an angry local elder. 
 
A Rohingya elder said, “The SPDC authorities plan to change the demography   of northern Arakan and want to show foreigners that the Rohingyas settled in Arakan not too long ago. So they want to erase traces of an old cemetery belonging to Muslims.”
 
Earlier, in Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships, the army, Nasaka, police and Sarapa  also set up camps and built houses for other purposes after demolishing mosques, Arabic schools and cemeteries though places were available for construction of buildings for their use,  according to a student.  
 
But the army officer did not offer villagers an alternative place to be used as a cemetery to bury the dead.