Dated: February 24, 2004
Rakhine and Rohingya Student Clashes in Sittwe University
Sittwe, February 24: Clashes had been
erupted between Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim students in
Sittwe (Akyab) University in Arakan (Rakhine) State of western Burma,
according to our sources.
On 18th February 2004, at around 10:00 am, the clash first erupted
when a group of Rakhine students headed by Taw Way Khine, who is
well-known in Sittwe University for notorious activities, went on
the rampage and started beating Rohingya Muslim students without
any provocation injuring some Rohingya students, said a Rohingya
student who is studying in Sittwe University.
The next day, on 19th February 2004, the Rakhine students continued
to harass the Rohingya students. But this time, as there was no
other way out, the Rohingya students, in their self-defense, resisted
the violence. During clashes, many students, including Rakhine students,
had received injuries. Of them, 6/7 Rohingya students, who were
seriously injured, were admitted to Sittwe Medical Hospital, he
On information, the police, Military Intelligent (MI) and army
went to the spot and controlled the situation from further escalation.
The classes had been temporarily suspended but were resumed immediately
after imposition of security measures by the law enforcement agencies.
Despite this, many Rohingya students are reported to have not attending
the classes for fear of further violence, a retired schoolteacher
near by University said.
According to a report from DVB, the clash occurred on the morning
of 19th February, when three female Rakhine students, who were on
their way to the university, were stoned and injured by some Muslim
men. Commenting on the report of DVB, one parents of a University
student said, “The news was not true, there was no such incident.”
Till now about 20 Rohingya Students were reported to have been
arrested by MI and police. However, it could not be confirmed whether
Rakhine students have been arrested. MI is collecting photos and
other details of the Rohingya students, in particular, from office
of the University to hunt them, said another University student.
On 20th February, the authorities arrested three more students
from a local boarding where they have been lodging. They have been
tortured and interrogated asking, “Who incite you to do this?
How do you dare to resist the Rakhine students?” he further
“We are small in number compared to Rakhine students and
we are also oppressed and persecuted by ruling military junta. We
are in fact helpless and hapless. How can it be possible for us
to make disturbance. We wish to continue our studies peacefully
and we want to have peaceful and honorable living,” a student
when asked by telephone, who could not be named, told Kaladan Press.
In February 2001, a riot erupted between Rakhine and Rohingya communities
incited by vested quarters, which left many people dead, injured,
homeless and lost of properties.
If the authorities are not cautiously dealing with the situation,
it may turn from bad to worse, said an elderly man from Sittwe.
When contacted, Nurul Islam, the President of the Arakan Rohingya
National Organisation (ARNO) said to the Kaladan Press, “It
is a machination of the SPDC authorities to permanently divide the
two sister communities of Rakhine and Rohingya. I appeal to the
students and people of both communities to exercise maximum self-restraint
in the interest of the whole people of Arakan.