Daily Eleven interviews with Islamist Bengali about situations after the August 25 terrorist attacks

Than Zaw Tun
An Arabic School in Pantawpyin village, Maungdaw, northern Rakhine State

The Daily Eleven newspaper had an exclusive interview with an Islamist Bengali about relations between ethnics and Bengalis, buying and selling matters, business, concerns and aspirations and so on after ARSA extremist Bengali terrorists had launched coordinated terrorist attacks that started on August 25 at an Arabic school in Pantawpyin village, Maungdaw, northern Rakhine State.

Q: How did you live and eat following the well-organized terrorist attacks launched by ARSA extremist terrorists?

A: We were in a difficult situation. This was because roads were blocked and there were no cars on the road. Therefore, we had a difficult access to travel from one place to another. We experienced difficulties in basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

Q: What is a major profession here?

A: Most of the people do the farming. But some do the selling in the market. Some are running own shops.

Q: How about your sales when problems cropped up? You are carrying out trading activities with Rakhine ethnics. At such a time, do trading activities become cold?

A: Now, no trading activities in our sight.

Q: Are you convenient with your basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter?

A: We have to face a quite difficult situation. We have to store rice in the village as we do the farming. It is convenient for us to eat rice, but curry is difficult for us. The sellers of meat and fish can’t come to the village.

Q: How many people are there in the village before August 25?

A: Our village has a population of almost 5,000 people.

Q: How many people are there in the village at the present time?

A: I think there are more than 2,000 people. I don’t know the exact number. The rest of the people fled.

Q: Why did they flee?

A: They fled because of being afraid.  Our Pantawpyin village tract has four villages. Anauk, Ale, Ashay and Ywathay. Ywathay was set fire and so all its villagers fled. The villagers from the remaining villages also fled.

Q: How do you think that they fled because of being afraid? Why did they do so?

A: I think that they fled in case their villages should be set fire like Ywathay.

Q: The houses were on fire or the houses were set fire? Is an arson attack?

A: We didn’t see who set fire to houses exactly. Anauk village is far from us. This is why we cannot tell exactly.

Q: What villages surrounded this village? Are there Rakhine ethnic or other ethnic villages? Are there Bengali villages near this village?

A: Rakhine ethnic villages are in the east direction of us.  

Q: How far is it?

A: We are now seeing the villages. They are one or two furlongs far. They are so near.

Q: In the past, you are convenient with your basic needs. Now is the different matter. It is the consequence of terrorist attacks launched by ARSA extremists. As a Bengali, how do you hold the view on terrorist attacks?

A: The terrorist attacks had much effect on us. We have good and bad people. Our community had to be destroyed because of the terrorist attacks of ARSA. We don’t want it. We want to live peacefully. We want to be like this.

Q: What is your opinion on national verification card (NVC) process that the government will carry out?

A: People don’t want to accept this process.

Q: How do you identify yourself as a Bengali or a Rohingya? Some identify as Rohingya.

A: My nationality is Islamist. If we get opportunities, we wan to live peacefully. We don’t want to make any problem. We don’t want to get NVC so much. But we want to be a Myanmar citizen. We want to have equal rights. We want nothing but equal rights.

Q: Does this village get phone message? Are there threats if the villagers would flee?

A: No, it doesn’t. No, there aren’t.

Q: All the villagers from Ywathay fled, didn’t they?

A: Yes, they did. We don’t want to flee. If we flee, we will see trouble. We don’t want to abandon our native places. We dare not go.

Q: What do you want tell else other?

A: If equal rights are granted us, we want to live peacefully. We want them. Equal rights mean travel, education and health. We want citizen rights.

Translated by Win Htut