Saturday, March 01, 2008

Burma: Jailed for renovating mosque

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Twelve villagers of Thinn Baw Gwe (Kol Loon) in Maungdaw Township have been sentenced to seven years in jail by the Maungdaw High Court on February 24 for renovation of a mosque and Hafez Khana (Quaran memorial center), said a close relative of one of the victims on condition of anonymity.

The villagers had renovated the village mosque and Hafez Khana after acquiring necessary documents and permission from the Commander of Nasaka area No. 8 of Maungdaw Township , three months ago.

But, the Commander was transferred and a new Nasaka Commander was appointed to Nasaka area No.8, recently. The new Commander was not happy with the renovation of mosque and Hafez Khana.

As a result, ten personnel of Burma 's border security forces, Nasaka, went to Thinn Baw Gwe village on February 10, and arrested 12 villagers and brought them to the Naska camp. Though, the villagers showed the documents and permission letter given by the former Naska Commander (a Major) but the new Nasaka Commander (a Captain) did not accept it, said a local villager.

The arrested villagers were detained in Nasaka camp for 10 days. After which they were handed over them to Maungdaw police station. Later on, on February 25, the arrestees were produced in Maungdaw high court and sentenced to seven years jail each for renovation of mosque and Hafez Khana without permission. They were sent to Buthidaung jail, said a police aide from Maungdaw Town .

The victims are identified as Hashim Ullah (40), son of Mogul Ahmed, Rahamat Ullah (30), son of Md. Yunus, Latif Mistry ( 50), Noor Mohamed (50), Sayed YUllag (40), Md. Rofique(40), son of Noor Ahmed, Nur Islam( 50), son of Lal Mohamed and five others. All the victims belong to Thinn Baw Gwe village of Maungdaw Township.

Another 20 villagers including village Chairman Khobir Ahmed (50), son of Basir Ahmed are still absconding to evade arrest by Nasak and police, said another village elder.

In Arakan State, one cannot renovate mosques, religious schools, houses even cow sheds without taking permission from concerned authorities. This is valid for only the Rohingya community.