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Burma Muslim Refugees Remain Homeless

Six months after anti-Muslim violence raged through Burma

INDONESIA

Senin, 21 Okt 2013 17:19 WIB

Author

Ko Swe DVB

Burma Muslim Refugees Remain Homeless

Burma, Muslim, communal conflict, IDP, DVB

Six months after anti-Muslim violence raged through Burma’s central town of Meikhtila, 3000 mostly Muslim, residents remain homeless.

Around half of the displaced have been relocated to new apartments away from their original homes.

The rest remain in the camps and don’t know when or where they will be moved.

57-year-old Daw Ni Ni has been living here in a displacement camp for the last 6 months.

She shares this small room with her daughter and two grandchildren. 

When her house caught fire in the riots, her land ownership documents were destroyed.

The authorities say they will give her new papers so she can rebuild her home but no one is telling her when.

“They said our land documents would be issued. So we went to see.”
Q: Will you get your own land plot?
“They didn’t say.”

Daw Ni Ni’s husband was one of the 43 people who were killed during the anti-Muslim violence last march. 

Thousands of Muslims were driven out from their homes, as Buddhist mobs torched whole neighbourhoods, destroying shops, homes and mosques.

Daw Ni Ni’s sons were also attacked but rescued by a Buddhist man.

She’s tired of waiting for government help in the camp and just want to go home.

“Whether the government wishes to give us help or not, it’s time to stand on our own feet.”



Also in the camp is 35-year-old Thin Thin Maw who lost her husband in the violence.

She lost all her possessions including her noodle shop.

“Right now, I have no idea what to do exactly but I won’t live any more here when I can leave this camp. I want somewhere to live.”

Daw Ni Ni’s sons are working in their cousins’ butchers shop to help the family get back on its feet.

“I don’t want my sons to keep doing this job in the long term but our condition is that we have to be content with everything that we have.”

The residents of Meikhtila suffered unimaginable trauma. Some 13,000 people were displaced when the mobs descended on the town.

Doctors are calling for counselling service in the camps, says Dr Myint Oo, secretary of the Committee for Medical Ethics Society.

“If they set up clinics and also appointed psychiatrics, counselors, who counsel them individually as well as in groups to heal their mental wounds. By receiving group therapy, they can support and have a heart to heart talk each other.”

As people are restricted from leaving, the camps are in danger of feeling like prisons.

Myint Oo says those in charge must ease the displaced people’s fears and anxieties.

To do this he suggests allowing religious leaders to make visits. 

“The most important things are to avoid the detestable speech and to treat everyone equally.”

ThinThin Maw continues to wait for support.

“I wish I could all the necessary things such as furniture, kitchenware and something like that to run new noodle shop if I have the permission to leave this refugee camp.”

Those still left in the camps in Meikhtila face uncertainty. They don’t know when or where they will be relocated.

They feel as though they have been forgotten.


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