Maungdaw, Arakan State: Village Peace and Development Council members of Oo Shaikya (Borashidar Para) village tract in Maungdaw Township are extorting money from laborers who went to work in neighboring Nasaka areas from Nasaka area No.5, said a village elder in the locality.

The villagers from Oo Shaikya village tract went to neighboring Nasaka areas No. 2, 4 and 6 in Maungdaw Township to work as laborers.

 

The laborers went to other Nasaka areas after getting recommendation letters from the authorities after paying money for 20 days.

 

At the end of 20 days, the laborers returned to their village but they were asked to pay kyat 5,000 to 10,000 per head to the VPDC members as tax. Most were unable to pay such a big amount. If the laborers fail to pay, the VPDC members will arrest and put them into stocks---a wooden structure with holes for the feet and hands--- until they get the money, according to a laborer who paid VPDC members.

 

Fearing arrest and torture by the VPDC members some of them sold their domestic cattle and gave the money to VPDC members. Now the poor villagers are unable to support family members.

 

The villagers complained to the higher authorities but they paid no heed.

 

The VPDC members have been identified as Village Chairman of Oo Shaikya village tract, his younger brother Md. Alam, former Chairman Abdul Hakim and member Aman Ullah. They collected the money on the directives of the authorities.

 

In Arakan state, there is restriction of movement for the Rohingya community, even from one village to another. Villagers need permission from the authorities to travel.  As a result the Rohingya community is becoming jobless and poorer by the day.