Buthidaung, Arakan State: Natala villagers’ or model villagers have adopted new tactics to harass Arakanese Rohingya villagers in Buthidaung Township north Arakan, according to village elder on condition of anonymity.

Natala villagers are mostly Burman people who were brought to Arakan north from Burma proper to be settled in Arakan by seizing Arakanese Rohingya land. They harass local Arakanese Rohingya villagers. Mostly, they are drug addicts and prisoners, who served long terms. They are lured by the authority by false promises to come to north Arakan or brought forcibly. They steal cattle, vegetables, chilli and other things from the Rohingya people; and rob and loot Arakanese Rohingya villagers. They create problems between Arakanese Rohingya and Natala villagers with the help of local authorities.

Recently, the Natala villagers adopted a new method to harass Arakanese Rohingya villagers. Some of the Natala villagers with their wives went to a market, and entered clothes-shops pretending to buy clothes. The female Natala villagers took some clothes and put it in their bag while their husbands were talking to the shopkeepers, said a shopkeeper.

If the shopkeepers saw female Natala villagers stealing they did not dare complain because of fear of retaliation. The shopkeepers know that the Natala villagers are supported by police, the Nasaka and the army.

If the shopkeeper detains female Natala villagers for stealing, the police or Nasaka will come to the spot, and the shopkeepers will be arrested and extorted a huge sum of money.  Fearing this some Arakanese Rohingya shopkeepers went to the concerned authority and complained about Natala villagers, but no heed was paid.

Natala villagers also go out of the shop without paying money to the shopkeepers after buying clothes. If the shopkeeper asks for money, they create problems or quarrel with shopkeepers.

For instance, on January 25, three Natala villagers from Aung Thaya Natala village of Maungdaw Township went to a nearby water melon farm at night to steal while a Arakanese Rohingya youth was watching. The Natala villagers forcibly took away watermelons. When the Arakanese Rohingya youth stopped them, he was severely beaten up by the Natala villagers, said a local villager.

The Arakanese Rohingya youth along with some Arakanese Rohingya villagers went to the nearby Nasaka camp the following day and complained. The Nasaka detained the youth and three Natala villagers. They will be forced to work in the camp for 10 days.