Photo - Arakan Alin Daga Activists’ Group

Kyaw Thu Htay | DMG

20 July, Sittwe

An activists’ group has been interrogated by police yesterday for collecting funds in Sittwe to provide for IDPs in Arakan State.

Members of the Arakan Alin Daga Activists’ Group were raising funds in Sittwe’s Pyidawtha ward on Friday when they returned to their homes Sittwe police took photos of them. 

Eight members of the group including the secretary were taken to No.1 Police Station in Sittwe on Friday evening.

Police allowed them to go back home after questioning them but they were summoned again yesterday morning for further questioning. During a two-day interrogation, activists were mainly asked if their group is registered and how they spend their funds, activists said.

“They asked where we provided relief aid. So, we showed all certificates of honour we have to prove where we donated funds. We provided aid for almost all IDP camps. We made 37 donations, including one to a hospital,” said Daw Phyu Phyu Than, secretary of the activists’ group.

Daw Phyu Phyu Than added that police interrogated them under the instruction of their superiors.

The group applied to township administration department in April for permission to collect funds in public for IDPs, but no significant response had been made and they started fundraising since May, the secretary said.

Police told them they would open a legal case against the people who were for collecting funds without proper permission, she added.

She said that their group was collecting fund to provide for IDPs and it is not a treasonable offence.

“If we can collect fund only when we get permission, IDPs will die of starvation. We cannot look on with indifference at the plight of refugees,” she said.

The ongoing clashes between the Tatmadaw and the AA have resulted in over 50,000 IDPs so far in Arakan State who are in dire need of food, proper shelter and health care. Meanwhile, the government has prohibited international relief organizations, apart from ICRC and WFP, from entering Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw where a large number of refugees are taking shelter in IDP camps.

The government’s ban creates difficulties for IDPs, international relief organizations said.

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