Near Sittwe University, which sits amid several Rohingya villages and camps, RohingyaS on foot, bicycle or scooter are forced to pull off the road when Buddhist Rakhine students are leaving classes. Sharing the same stretch of tarmac as a Rohingya is unacceptable for many Rahkine Buddhists; heaven forbid a Rohingya should attempt to board the same bus or eat in the same restaurant.
Aung Mingalar is the last neighborhood of Rohingya living inside the town of Sittwe; the rest of population is now under canvas or tarps out in the countryside. This island of Rohingya houses is now effectively a ghetto surrounded by barbed wire.
The soldiers that patrol the area are supposed to protect the Rohingya from further attacks by hostile locals, but videos taken by Rohingya purportedly showing an outbreak of violence in Aung Mingalar in June show the troops doing little to put out fires set in Rohingya homes. The Rohingya fear more attacks here, but can do little to stop the gangs of extremists who they say were orchestrated by a local Rahkine nationalist party.
The spokesman for that party denies involvement, but has open contempt for the Rohingya, flinching when I even mention the term. He says it's a recently made up word, and that the Rohingya are simply Bengalis from neighboring Bangladesh. Ominously he goes further. He doesn't just want to kick all Rohingya out. He wants all Muslims out of Rakhine state, including officially recognized ethic groups like the Kaman. The anti-Muslim sentiment has spread across Myanmar, with protests outside a mosque in the main city of Yangon.
The International Crisis Group report on the situation is deeply worrying, while Human Rights Watch has also completed some important work, highlighting the atrocities, with satellite photos showing the vast areas of destruction.
What has disappointed many is that Nobel laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi took a long time to speak out clearly to uphold Rohingya rights and condemn the extremists. She recently told Indian Broadcaster NTV: "Violence is something I condemn completely, but don't forget that violence has been committed by both sides. This is why I prefer not to take sides and also I want to work towards reconciliation between these two communities. I'm not going to be able to do that if I'm going to take sides."
Suu Kyi elaborated further, saying: "There's a quarrel whether people are true citizens under the law or whether they have come over as migrants later from Bangladesh. One of the very interesting and rather disturbing facts of this whole problem is that most people seem to think as that there was only one country involved in this border issue. But there are two countries. There's Bangladesh one side, there's Burma on the other and the security and the security of the border is surely the responsibility of both countries."
But in the past she has referred to Rohingyas with the pejorative term "Bengalis" suggesting some should not be recognized as citizens in Myanmar.
The whole issue has tarnished the glow of fast-paced reform in Myanmar. While the rest of the country is enjoying freedoms not experienced in 60 years of military dictatorship, in Rahkine State the ethnic cleansing is continuing with impunity. It demands the attention of the international community, for the sake of children like Saulama... before it's too late.