Myanmar’s authorities suspended official population assessment on Bengali migrants in Rakhine State due to disagreement among Bengali population which demanded to recognize them as “Rohingya” not “Bengalis”, according to officials.
The official process began on April 26 in Sittwe, Rakhine’s capital as well as other townships across the state.
Such disagreement has deterred the process on that day in Sittwe which encountered Bengali residents’ refusal to take part willingly in the process, the officials said.
“We tried to start our process at 10:00am that day. The first problem came up as we could not call in two Bengali representatives to take part in the process. They refused it. But we tried to start it by ourselves. When we started, a woman arrived shouting “I don’t want to see them here, I don’t want to see them here!” an official said.
“Several Bengali women joined them moments later and they tried to shoo us. When we asked them why they didn’t like to be assessed, they told us that they will never give any listing if they’re not recognized as “Rohingya”, he said.
“As the crowd became bigger, we had to stop it for the moment. And we reported to superior officials about the situation. It’s impossible to continue our tasks today. We’re concerned some bad would happen,” said an immigration staff who took part in the process in Thetkelpyin village, Sittwe.
“Even some hostile manners were seen among the Bengali communities,” Win Myaing, the secretary for Information and Records Committee under Rakhine State Government said, “We heard the news [they] are disturbed. We are not to list the number of “Rohingya”. We are only to list the number of “Bengalis” in accordance with the plan,”
A total of 18 operation teams are in the city to taking census.
A total of 63 teams have been formed in the state to conduct the official survey in townships where Benglais are living, and each 20-membered team consisting of three immigration staff, four Nasaka staff, one staff each from ward or village administrator’s office and Land Records Department, two representatives each from Rakhine ethnic community and Bengali community, one administrator each from every wards or villages, three military personnel, and three policemen.
“Today, no listing was done. No Bengali representatives came even when they’re requested them to come. We will suspend the process today,” said Kyaw Myint, an immigration officer that day.
Separately, a military personnel was reported to be injured in a Sittwe village lately. The authorities are now increasing security forces at the places where some trouble broke out.
Meanwhile, approximately 200 personnel from the Ministry of Immigration and Population were sent to Rakhine for the project.