How would Bengalis linked with ARSA terror group be re-accepted?

Phyo Wai
Photo-Information Committee

Myanmar will soon start a process for re-accepting Bengalis who fled to Bangladesh.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi already told the international community that Myanmar will re-accept anyone who can be verified in accordance with the 1993 agreement.

UNHCR’s reports as of September 28 tallied the amount of runaway Bengalis to around 501,000 and their numbers grow daily. The Information Committee also reported of many Bengalis that had previously remained within Myanmar but had now crossed over or are now gathering at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border to migrate.

Despite the countrywide support behind the fact that “Rohingya” is not amongst one of the recognized ethnicities of Myanmar, the pressure from Myanmar’s ex-colonial British masters that lorded the nation over a period of 100 years or so had forced the government’s hands.

The “Rohingya” are also demanding that they will not accept any deal if they’re not categorized as an ethnicity.

It is atrociously appalling to see Britain, an empire of the olden days that had leeched of its colonies including Myanmar, dabbling and manipulating in underhanded geopolitics that will force a sovereign nation to accept illegal immigrants as its citizens despite overwhelming evidence ever since British colonial-era that the “Rohingya” were never citizens.

If we were to compare the performance of our ex-subjugators post-colonialism, Japan comes off as highly benevolent and Britain as blatantly dishonest.

Nevertheless, we have to accept the inevitability of international pressure from Britain, France, the US and other Islamic countries as well as influential media organizations such as the BBC. We will have to ensure that the verification process of to accept them as one of our own protects against very probable attacks from extremist organizations such as the ARSA.

It is of paramount importance that in this situation, we simply do not open the flood gates but rather come up with rigorous policies that intertwine with anti-terrorism laws within the verification process to filter out ill-willed Bengalis with connections to armed terror groups.

According to Dr Aung Ko Ko, a member of the economic committee of the National League for Democracy, the national verification process must be strict.

“The Bengalis that had fled to Bangladesh aren’t all quite honest because many of them will not be eligible for the government’s National Verification Process. It might be possible that some of them are those that had fled to Bangladesh for before all this started out under the pretense of “oppression” from Myanmar government. We must carefully scrutinize the verification process and accept only those that qualify. We must gather complete bio-data about them and by that I don’t mean just a thumb print. It means the whole nine yards of all ten fingerprints, iris recognition and so on. After that we have to make a new database specifically for them. The ID card we make for them must be imitation proof. There could be those that harbor ulterior motives when getting accepted into Myanmar. If anything goes awry, we must have the data at the ready to easily get to those responsible. Those that want to be citizens must be loyal to the country, obey the law as well as respect and follow the local culture. Under the 1982 citizenship laws, which should not be amended in any way, people must abide by the aforementioned criteria,” said Dr Aung Ko Ko.

 Relationship between Bengalis that fled and the ARSA

The Information Committee had announced that many of those that had crossed over to Bangladesh following the events on August 25 are likely to be related to the ARSA terror group.

One particular statement released on September 15 claims that the truth of the situation is being shown by many that chose to remain and peacefully live out their lives in Myanmar despite thousands that fled to Bangladesh.

Another statement claims that after the attacks orchestrated by the ARSA on August 25, Bengalis from at least 176 villages out of a total of 471 Bengali villages across three townships, left their village wholesale for Bangladesh. It also says that 34 more villages were found to be half-abandoned.

According to that statement number 52 by the Information Committee, a large portion of the abandoned villages were found    to have harbored ARSA extremist terrorists or were sympathizers to their cause. They fled in fear of repercussions for the violence while many women and children were notified in advance to leave their villages. As not all villages wished to be a part of the attacks on August 25, the report says, some had remained relatively in peace. Those villages will be protected and supplied with rations, the government claimed.

Despite the Tatmadaw ceasing military operations within the conflict zone since September 5, the Bengali exodus has yet to stop.

According to Buthidaung MP Htun Aung Thein, a large portion of those that continued fleeing even as things calm down is because Mawlawi(s) have been telling to do so.

He also mentioned the suspiciously low count of younger men amongst the Bengalis in Bangladesh with the majority of them being women, children and the elderly. It begs the question whether all able bodied men that are of use to the ARSA have been recruited.

Htun Aung Thein also warned of student ID cards belonging to Bengali children found in places of conflict.

“If they lived here and then escaped there, they should be in possession of household or census papers issued by Myanmar’s immigration department. I believe that they should be allowed back into Myanmar according to those documents only. There are very little young men amongst the refugees and it is highly concerning because ARSA’s recruitment seems to be targeting hot-blooded young students. There have been many student cards that have been found in places of battle. Those children are being trained to be terrorists and we have to verify whether they are amongst those that had fled. When the verification process begins, we must have immigration records to countercheck against the possibility of fake documents,” said the MP.

Evidence of overwhelming migrate-in over exodus-out

While Bangladesh continue to claim that there are no illegal immigrants from their end, the proof of the pudding lies in the bodies of Bangladeshis shot dead by Indian border guards.

It have been decades for Myanmar as the choice 3rd world platform for Bengalis facing population explosion in their homeland, to assume the mantle of the “Rohingya” in Myanmar, plea for refugee status and asylum-ship to the international community because of “oppression” from the government.

For the dream of third world, Bengalis illegally entered Myanmar and they settled and carried out birthing. For that reason, the government scrutinized illegal Bengalis through Nagamin project in 1978.

Before launching Nagamin project, Kyeekan and Shwe Kyee operations were launched starting 1966. In 1969, Myat Mon operation was also conducted and Sabei operation in 1974, stated in Bengali problem and Rakhine’s future of Khine Kyaw (Law).

Illegal immigrant Bengalis dared not being scrutinized through Nagamin project and so more than Bengali villages fled to the other country.

Nagamin project was launched in Sittwe for the first move. According to the investigation into illegal Bengalis, 36,824 ones violated the law, actions were taken against 1,316 ones under the immigration law and actions were taken against 1,025 ones under the foreigner registration and national act. The second phase of the project started in Buthidaung and Maungdaw and scrutiny was conducted. 17,913 households and 10,843 people were under scrutiny in Buthidaung. 35,596 people who were afraid of the scrutiny fled. 39,418 households and 125,893 people were under scrutiny. 85,705 people who were afraid of the government scrutiny fled.

When Bengalis disliked Nagamin project, Bengali terrorists attacked in use of bombs and set fire to the bridges. Nagamin project is the same as the current situation. At that time, the foreign media expressed misleading figures of illegal Bengalis who fled. The foreign media also carried the news of nearly 100,000 Bengalis who were murdered. Under the pretext of the voice that Nagamin project displaced more than 250,000 Bengalis to Bengalis, the UNHCR started to participate in the issue in May in 1978.

The government had to accept illegal Bengalis under Hintha project because of such pressure and the interference of the UNHCR. Myanmar government had to accept 189,733 Bengalis. This figure was 33,103 more than the actual number of those fleeing to Bangladesh, stated in Bengali problem and Rakhine’s future of Khine Kyaw (Law).

Even the present time, the figure of Bengalis who are fleeing daily is growing. The statement of the UNHCR issued on September 28 stated that there are about 501,000. Shan State MP Tun Aung representing Buthidaung said that there will a potential for Bengalis to flee to Bangladesh, if Mawlawis stimulate them. There are 1,659 Mawlawis in Maungdaw and they should cooperate with the government in the verification process to accept Bengalis who fled to Bangladesh as State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi requested. The government must stop those who are organizing Bengalis to flee to Bangladesh and not to accept the verification process. How to stop Bengalis from incoming or outgoing should be resolved even now. It is necessary for the government to scrutinize the list of Bengalis fleeing to Bangladesh.

The brief report of Vice-President Myint Swe-led Maungdaw Investigation Commission stated that there were 515,484 Muslims in Rakhine State and 1,054,790 Muslims in 2016. The number of Muslim people doubled.

The UNHCR stated there are about 501,000 Bengalis fleeing to Bangladesh at present. It is totally unacceptable. The homeless and the workless from Bangladesh and Bangladeshis who are dreaming of the third world will surely add to the list.

Myanmar government will accept Bengalis who fled to Bangladesh in accord with the 1993 agreement. According to the 1993 agreement, fleeing Bengalis need to be the ones who are taking shelter in Bangladesh. Moreover, they need to be the ones who are recorded by Bangladesh and who are holding refugee registration cards. They must have documents that they lived in Myanmar. They must have national identity cards and national registration cards. They must have other documents issued by Myanmar authorities. Only those who meet with such documents will be accepted.

It is easy to fake these documents. Especially, the party cards issued by the USDP are easy to imitate. It is surely to accept more Bengalis than the actual number of those who are fleeing to Bangladesh.

The government is preparing to accept Bengalis who are fleeing to Bangladesh expecting the cost will be worth of over Ks2 billion.

Dr Win Myat Aye, Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Chairman of the Implementation Committee for Recommendations on Rakhine State, said: “State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi already mentioned in the State-owned dailies that fleeing Bengalis would be accepted in accord with the 1993 agreement.    

Reviews showed that further terrorist attacks would be in view in conflict-affected Rakhine State. It is required to lay down a strategy systematically. The pressures of the world nations and the United Nations must be taken into consideration.

This situation is different from that of the past. It is very easy to duplicate documents. For that reason, the list of the immigration is official. There might be terrorist attacks. The government halted its operations on September 5. From that day onwards, Bengalis are fleeing to Bangladesh. When they are asked why you are fleeing, they replied that their superiors forced them to flee to Bangladesh. When they are asked who your superiors are, they replied they are Mawlawi. These may be potentials of further possible terrorist attacks, Tun Aung Thein said.

ARSA terrorist group plans to start attack after October 10

ARSA has announced one sided that they will cease fire for one month on September 10th. According to their announcement, they will re-start clashes after October 10.

The ARSA has attacked 3 security out-posts in Rakhine in October 2016 and in August 2017, they attacked 30 security out-posts. While the international community is still focusing on them, it is assumed that they will do the attack while their(international community) attention is still on them.  The government has to be very cautious about this. Besides re-accepting of Bengalis, they have to be aware of and need to prevent  the future attacks connecting Bengalis re-entering Myanmar and ARSA terrorist groups. In order to avoid international pressure exerts on the ARSA terrorists, they denied that there is no involvement of IS and Al Qaeda terrorists groups. But, some media have expressed that they have connections with IS, Pakistani extremists. The ARSA while attacking the security out-posts with handmade swords, knives and catapults to avoid the media attention on them in the pretext of  fighting human rights, they have guns and weapons already in their hands. They got these weapons when they attacked these security out-posts and seized them.  The Myanmar government couldn’t able to retrieve back these weapons when the terrorists attacked the out-posts. They may do the similar attack by shooting from a distant and then use knives and swords in close up attacks.

Tun Aung Thein said that,” no matter what we think them, as long as they aren’t a Myanmar citizen, they should be put in refugee camps. After examining for citizenship, they should be allowed to go freely. Otherwise, they should be placed in a place controlled by security forces”.

In addition, local Rakhine people are relocating in their native places. But, people felt unsafe in their native places. So, the government should pay priority on security and then think of co-existing like previous time. Currently, Myanmar government asked for arrest of more than 600 people in connection with ARSA terrorists. After arresting these 600, the government should accept Bengalis. Otherwise, terrorists may mix in the Bengalis re-entering Myanmar. It will be like gathering terrorists for doing another attack in accordance with NHK reporter Thiha Thwe.

“The situation needs great care. Security is the most important thing at present and so re-accepting Bengalis should do only when there is security, prevalence of law and order in the region. Because, locals are still need to go homes and it is relocating time for these people. In re-accepting Bengalis is the same. If we accepts hundreds and thousands of Bengalis at one time, it is prone to cause another attack. We must do the arrest of over 600 terrorists first. I heard that government contacted Bangladesh government about the matter. Then only, we should think of re-accepting. It is in the 1993 agreement that concerning with drugs and terrorists, they will do for it. Or else, terrorists may mix with the ordinary people. Next thing is, people have easy access in border area. It is difficult to understand that numbers of Bengalis reached 500,000.  These 500,000 people gradually went out from Myanmar made me think that whether the border gate is open freely.  How can the government will control this situation? The government should properly handle the border gate condition,” said political writer Thiha Thwe.

United States is also preparing to build a wall between Mexico and give U.S citizenship to only those loyal to U.S after making examinations. There is no country where citizenship is given easily. Like these cases, Myanmar government needs to scrutinize systematically. Bengalis desire not only Myanmar citizenship but also a Myanmar national. The free flow of Bengalis need to control systematically.  Those leaving Myanmar because of they are persecuted, just leaving for their own will, shouldn’t be allowed to re-enter Myanmar gain according to Dr. Aung Ko Ko.

In security sector, the ARSA extremist terrorists brutally killed over 50 wards and villages administrators including those who closely associated with the government from October, 2016 to August of 2017.

“In my opinion, posting officers in northern Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State, paid a special attention to Bengali issues around 1970. At that time, there were allegations of bribery and corruption among Bengali affairs. However, inflow of Bengalis didn’t depend on the corruption. As the control of illegal Bengalis, there had been requirement sectors including social welfare. The ex-governments didn’t observe the lives of civil servants in Rakhine State. Government needs to lay down the new policy if they will employ staff because the region is likely to be the battlefield. The government also must be reviewed old policies. Moreover, the posting staff must be assigned again and administrative sector should be drawn after laying down the new projects,” said Dr Aung Ko Ko.

 “Security of Rakhinees must be given as first priority. It means that it is impossible to go back to their homes as the security is unsafe. That’s why government must be thought about the secure security sector. Small villages are to be relocated to the big one after combining each other. Moreover, special priority on Mro people who will be convenient by living in the hilly region must be given. As for Bengalis, they will flee to Bangladesh because they felt that their native was secure. So, authorities must be scrutinized the fleeing Bengalis and accepted again. Moreover, it is needed to relocate them[Bengalis] at the special designated places which can’t be harmful to security guards including Myanmar Police Force as well as which can be impossible to flee to Bangladesh. And then, it is also needed that those Bengalis must be separated from the Rakhinees. I reviewed that only acceptable Bengalis must be received in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Law,” said Than Tun, one of the Arakans.

“The incumbent government must be needed to carry out Rakhine affairs which is the big issue after taking the lessons of ex-governments’ false. If they won’t take the lessons, the illegal Bengalis will become Rohinga ethnic. Finally, Islamic State being expected by the IS extremists will appear on Rakhine State. They thought that there had been many land plots in Myanmar. In doing so, they will be emerging their new state by dividing like as Bangladesh and Khamira of Ukarine. Later, Rakhinees who will be sacrificed their lives and land for Great Bengal that Bangladesh dreams to get Myanma land,” said MP Zaw Zaw Myint from Buthidaung Township, Rakhine State who is also secretary of Investigation Committee for Bengali Violence in Maundaw and Yathedaung Townships which was formed by Rakhine State Parliament in October, last year after violence.

“There have been many weak points and lessons. The State Counselor said that the National Verification Process must be carried out by depending on the four-point of 1993 agreement. But, the numbers of fleeing Bengali may not be that much, they said. It’s meant that hundred thousands of Bengalis fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. But, many thousands of Bengalis will return back here. It is impossible. There have been one-sided many accusations against Bengali affairs. The issue will be depended on the Stakeholders including Global Political Situation,” MP Zaw Zaw Myint added.