Monday, 25 May 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Officers from Burma’s border security force, Nasaka arrested trustee members of a mosque in Nanda Khali village last week for repaving the flooring without permission from concerned authorities, said a local religious leader on condition of anonymity.

Nasaka officers from Area 6 arrested two of the mosque’s trustees, identified as Maulana Hirul Amin, 30, and Sayed Azim, 25, on November 22 and brought to the Nasaka camp.

The two men were released three days later after paying 3 million kyats to Nasaka officers, said a relative of one of the victims.

However, Nasaka officers from the same area arrested four other trustees on November 27: Sultan Amin, 60, Dil Mohamed, 60, Nurul Amin, 55, and another unidentified man, said a local trader from Nanda Kahli village.

The four men remain in the custody of Nasaka, which has demanded 6 million kyats for their release, the trader said, adding that the men cannot pay that amount.

Burma’s ruling junta has for years placed restrictions on the building and repairing of mosques in Arakan State, while residents report that some villages have been forced to destroy mosques and build pagodas in their place, said a businessman from Maungdaw.

“The mosque was old and the authorities have refused permission to rebuild or repair it, so villagers secretly tried to repair the flooring,” said an elder from Nanda Kahli village.

An elder from Buthidaung Township said the arrests and the restrictions on rebuilding mosques were indicative of the intolerance of the Burmese junta towards Muslims in Arakan State.

“In short, there is no religious freedom,” the elder said.