Rohingya in Buthidaung hit with even tougher travel restrictions

Authorities in Buthidaung, northern Rakhine State, last week tightened travel restrictions against local Rohingya, requiring them to obtain a permission slip from an immigration office in order to leave the township. 

The November 25 order from township adminstrator Nay Oo said that some “Muslim people” had been travelling beyond their own townships, districts, states, and regions without a document known as a Form 4, and that this threatened local security and rule of law.

The Rohingya have been subject to severe restrictions on their movements for years, one of numerous oppressive policies directed at the group that activists say form part of a genocidal campaign that came to a head with military-led mass killings in 2016 and 2017.

Those who travel without permission slips will face legal action and the new rule will be in effect for two months from the date of issue, the order said. 

Until now, Rohingya in the township have needed a recommendation letter from their village administrator to travel outside the township, but did not need to ask immigration. 

A Rohingya resident of Buthidaung, who asked to remain anonymous, said the new restrictions would mean delays for people who need to travel to Maungdaw to seek medical help and would make it even harder for some Rohingya to earn a living. 

The permission slip from the township immigration office will only be eligible only for seven days, he said.

“They are not going to let us travel without Form 4 anymore,” he told Myanmar Now. “We will need to get a recommendation letter from the village administrator first in order to get the permission slip from the immigration office.”

“This is just discrimination; people of other ethnicities do not need Form 4. This is basically just systematic oppression,” he added.

Another Rohingya from Buthidaung said it would be necessary to bribe local immigration officials to get the permission slip. “We have to wait if we don’t pay them. We need to pay them 5,000-10,000 kyat if we want it on the same day.”

Immigration officials in Buthidaung did not respond to requests for comment. Nay Oo, the township administrator, said he was in a meeting when contacted by Myanmar Now for comment. 

It is unclear if similar restrictions have been applied anywhere else in Rakhine. 

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