80-Family of New Buddhist Settlers Brought into Northern Arakan

Kaladanpress Network, December 31, 2005

Maungdaw, Myanmar -- 80-family of new Buddhist settlers were brought into northern Arakan from Burma proper, in an act of on going ethnic cleansing policy of present ruling junta on Rohingya minority group in Arakan State, said an ex- village Chairman requesting not to be named.

The settlers were brought to the east of "Khadir Bill village" nearby ancient airport, 4 miles away from Maungdaw town. It is placed in the south-east of Maungdaw Town and close to an army Battalion, he further said.

"Most of the new comers are retired army including officers intending to next election to be selected a represent for parliament member," said a man close to army higher authorities.

80 houses for new Buddhist settlers were built with forced labor of Rohingya villagers. These were built with tin sheets and cement provided by SPDC authorities. The daily wage of a carpenter in the open market are Kyat 1,000 to 3,000 but the authority only gave Kyat 500 to 1,000 according to the skill of the workers, a carpenter said.

Besides, nearby villagers have to provide Kyat 1,000 per family for the ration of new comers. They have also to provide generators to the new settlers for power supplying the Natala village, said a gentle man who paid 1,000 Kyats for ration.

There are two kinds of villages, one is called "model village" for the minority of Rakhine, Mro, Chakma, Sacc, Khami and another one is called "Natala village" especially for Burmans new settlers who are brought from Burma proper.

The Commander of the western command Brig General Khin Maung Myint frequently visits to northern Arakan to oversee the project how it is implemented, said a trader not to be named his name.

According to analysts, local people believe that the Natala village program will bring Burma culture to dominate in Arakan State, and that the program is being carried out to enhance the number of Burmans in relation to the Arakenese (Rohingyas, Rakhines) population.

The ruling SPDC for its continued repression on the Rohingya and re-engineering of the predominately Rohingya populated areas in Arakan.

The SPDC, in its attempts to create serious demographic changes, has been establishing so-called Natala villages, in all strategic places of northern Arakan, for the new Buddhists settlers being invited from Burma proper.

As a result, more and more Rohingyas are becoming landless, internal refugees, after their land properties being confiscated and their homes evacuated, a farmer from Maungdaw south said.

Since 2002, the concerned authorities had been very busy in construction of Natala village for the new settlers by confiscating farmland of Rohingya community for these settlers, the farmer continued.

In three northern towns of Arakan States, Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, there are over 30 model villages and Natala villages that have been built since 1990, said an elite of Maungdaw Town.