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The Burmese regime has taken a white elephant recently captured from the jungle in northern Arakan State to Naypyidaw, reportedly in secret to avoid protest by local residents.

U Waratharmi, a Buddhist monk from Buthidaung, said the current white elephant is the sixth one captured in the region, and it was taken to Naypyidaw while hidden from public sight.

"The Burmese regime seemed worried about protest by local Arakanese people this time, when they are claiming themselves to be a new democratic government. So, they have taken away the recently captured white elephant hidden from public sight to Naypyidaw, when they used to take away such elephants from the region very openly after conducting religious rituals and ceremonies," said U Waratharmi.

He said the news reports coming out from the local media that the white elephant arrived in Naypyidaw on 20 November, 2011, puzzled the residents in Maungdaw and Buthidaung, who wondered how the regime took the elephant from their area.

He added that it was likely the regime had to take the white elephant secretly because news has been spreading in the region that the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party would lead the local people in demanding the regime keep the captured elephant in Arakan State.

The elephant was captured jointly by the local forestry department and army on 15 October from Laungdon Sinthaypyin Village in Maungdaw Township.

The white elephants are traditionally valued by Arakanese people as one of the gems of their homeland and the news has also spread that the RNDP would demand the latest one captured be kept in Arakan State.

Daw Saw Mra Raza Lunn, Chairperson of the Rakhine Women Union based in Bangladesh, said the white elephants are traditionally valued by Arakanese people, but the Burmese regime disregards the traditional beliefs of the Arakanese and has taken all captured white elephants out of the state.

"We [Arakanese] traditionally value white elephants, but the Burmese regime has taken away all the white elephants captured from our land without respecting our traditional belief. This kind of bullying act by the regime is totally unacceptable and all us Arakanese must object to what the regime has been perpetrating against us," said Daw Saw Mra Raza Lunn.

Six out of seven white elephants in captivity were captured from Mayu Mountain Range in northern Arakan State, while one was captured from Irrawaddy Division. The elephants are now being kept in the former capital Rangoon and the current capital Naypyidaw.
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