Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Over 150 Myanmar Buddhists take shelter at border with Bangladesh

  • U She Thowai Marma, Bandarban Correspondent
    Published: 2019-02-10 21:29:22 BdST

More than 150 Buddhists from Myanmar have taken shelter in tents along the zero line of the border with Bangladesh’s Bandarban.

The displaced people, including women and children, gathered near Choikhyong Parha of the Bangladesh side on Feb 4, according to local journalist Shwai Hla Sein Marma.

The people from Rakhine, Khumi and Khao ethnic groups are being given food by those of Bom in Bangladesh.

They say they have fled fighting between the Myanmar security forces and rebels of Arakan Army group in Chin and Rakhine states.

One of them, Chaw Hla Mong Rakhine, told reporters that the fighting was under way near Kantalang Parha in Chin when they fled.

Mong Chheng She of Khamongwa Parha in the same state said the Myanmar Army was using heavy weapons and helicopters against the rebels.

Mong Chheng is among over 80 people of 22 families who fled the village.

According to journalist Shwai Hla Sein, the Buddhists from Myanmar include 33 males, 35 females and 23 children of 23 Rakhine families, nine males, 10 females and 16 children of nine Khumi families, eight males, six women and 20 children of six Khao ethnic group families.

Ramtang Bom, a former member of Remacri Pranga union council in Ruma, said the families were passing their days in misery due to cold winter weather.

It takes six to eight hours of walk to reach Choikhyong Parha from Keokradong, the peak which is accessible by jeep from Ruma. 

“People of the local Bom community have been providing them with food for a week,” Ramtang said.

Ruma Upazila Executive Officer Shamsul Alam told the local administration cannot help since the place where the Myanmar Buddhists have taken shelter is very remote.

Border Guard Bangladesh or BGB will look into the issue, he added.

BGB’s Bandarban Sector Commander Zahirul Haque said the border guards had spoken to the Budhhists from Myanmar.

“They will leave when the fighting ends. We’ve strengthened security along the border,” he said. 

This is the first time influx of Buddhists from Myanmar has been reported.

Bangladesh has already given shelter to some 1.2 million Rohingya Muslims who had fled violent persecution in Rakhine.

When the latest exodus of over 700,000 started in August, 2017, some Hindu families also crossed the border into Bangladesh.