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Myanmar: No respite for Rohingya Muslims as attacks continue

6th Oct 2017
Myanmar: No respite for Rohingya Muslims as attacks continue

By Meryem Goktas


(AA): Attacks on Rohingya Muslims are continuing despite Myanmar declaring an end to Myanmar’s military operation in Rakhine state, according to the Arakan Rohingya Union Wednesday.

The union made the observation in its “Narrative Report on Situation on the Ground in Northern Arakan/Rakhine State, Myanmar”, noting that Myanmar government officials reportedly met leaders of the Rohingya community and told them that the military had completed its operation and rooted out “insurgents”.

The U.S.-based Arakan Rohingya Union — a global Rohingya umbrella organization representing 61 Rohingya organizations worldwide – said reports on the ground, however, paint a different picture.

“In contrast, attacks on civilians and torching of homes by Buddhist Rakhine vigilantes under the cover of the police have dramatically increased since then,” the report said.

“The pattern of attacks are evidently conducted systematically. The vigilante groups torch Rohingya homes, the Rohingya families flee and police forces open fire at them.”

The report said information about “continuous killing of Rohingya families by the vigilantes under the cover of police and increased sexual violence against Rohingya women” were still being received from refugees arriving in Bangladesh.

“There are mounting allegations of Myanmar armed forces [army, police, and BGP] and the vigilantes demanding money and women from Rohingya families in certain locations in return for peace and security,” the report said, adding that it then leads to new waves of refugees.

The report also emphasized that Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state face serious food shortages.

While extremist Buddhists obstruct traders from selling food to Rohingya Muslims, some store owners sell their food to Rohingya at high prices, the report added.

– Appeal for global pressure

A calmer situation in most of Maungdaw Township areas can be seen while the situation in Buthidaung Township “remains deeply troubling”, the report said, adding that in Rathedaung, six villages have been completely destroyed, leaving no Rohingya behind.

The planned internally-displaced camps by the Myanmar government will leave the returning Rohingya Muslims stuck at those camps for a long period, the report said.

“If they [Rohingya Muslims] will be relocated from camps to permanent locations, it is possible that they will not be allowed to return to their original properties in their villages,” it said.

The camps are planned to be built near Taungbro village and other locations on the border at the Myanmar side for Rohinya Muslims wishing to return.

The report urged the international community to “form a strong coalition at United Nations to pressure the Security Council for urgent and ambitious actions, including a resolution to address the crisis facing the Rohingya, and designate a safezone for all people in Northern Arakan state protected by multinational security forces”.

It also urged on the importance of a resolution that contains “strong language that reflects the indiscriminate shelling of Rohingya villages, gruesome killings, sexual violence, and various forms of atrocities, including mutilation and dismemberment of the victims”.

The access to affected areas by international non-governmental organizations and media should be also demanded by the Myanmar government, the report added.

Since Aug. 25 when the military launched a crackdown against Rohingya militants, 507,000 Rohingya have crossed from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine into Bangladesh, according to the UN.

The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages. According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.


[Photo:  Rohingya Muslims fleeing ongoing military operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, walk in the water as they make their way after crossing border, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on September 29, 2017. Photographer: Safvan Allahverdi/AA]

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