Monday, 21 September 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The Burmese Army’s engineering unit, brought to Maungdaw Township for supervising border fence construction, tortured fishermen and extorted money from them on December 29 alleging that they had sold fish to buyers on the River Naff, said a close relative of an arrested fisherman. 

The fishermen have to pay Kyat 200,000 to the Nasaka authorities per month per head to get a license for fishing in the Naff River. It has nothing to do with the engineering unit.

That morning, some of the fishermen from Borbill village of Kyauk Hla Garr village tract of Maungdaw Township went to the Naff River for fishing and caught some fish and sold it to buyers who went there in small rowing boats. 

Some of the soldiers saw the fishermen on the Naff River and called them to take fish without paying, while going to the fence site on the border.  When the fishermen arrived on the bank, the soldiers saw that they had no fish as they had already sold it to buyers on the river. Irate soldiers tortured the fishermen because they sold the fish on the river, said one of the fishermen arrested by the army.   

The arrested fishermen were taken to their temporary camp. The five arrested fishermen were identified as Fayaz (25), son of Md. Rofique, Noor Kamal (26), son of Hassan and his younger brothers Noor Jamal (23) and Noor Khobir (20), and Sayed Noor (27), son of Sayed Amin. They all belong to Borbill village of Kyauk Hla Gaar village tract.

“It is normal for fishermen to sell their fish on the river because many buyers go there to buy fish,” said a local fisherman.

However, the following day, all the fishermen were released after they paid Kyat 50,000 per head to the army officer.

“Though their main duty is to provide security and supervise the barbed wire fence construction on the Burma-Bangladesh border but they torture and extort money from Rohingya villagers and fishermen,” said a local elder.