UN Secretary-General Guterres called the situation “catastrophic” as Myanmar leader decides to skip UN general assembly.
Myanmar government officials have confirmed that the army targeted Rohingya villages in Rakhine state, leaving 40% emptied as of now. From The Guardian:
Of 471 villages targeted in “clearance operations” by the Burmese army since late August, 176 were now empty and at least 34 others partially abandoned, Zaw Htay said.
The violent crackdown, launched in response to attacks by militants, has sent at least 370,000 Rohingya scrambling across the border to Bangladesh and prompted a barrage of criticism of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader.
The violent crackdown happened after Rohingya attacked security guards when reports emerged “that the military had been deploying an alarming number of troops to the northern part of the state, causing concern among local populations and independent observers.”
For decades, Myanmar, also known as Burma, has oppressed the Muslim minority. The government does not consider them citizens, thus leaving them stateless. In order to do anything they need permission from the government. They even need permission to have more than two kids. In fact, many in Myanmar call the Rohingya “Bengalis” because they believe the people “migrated illegally from Bangladesh” despite calling Myanmar home for generations.
Is it right that the Rohingya attacked the guards? No, but obviously from these statements the officials believe that gives them permission to liquidate this small group of people. From TIME:
Already poised to retaliate, Myanmar military troops, police and other security forces responded to the attacks with savagery; within days, thousands of Rohingya and other civilians began pouring over the border into Bangladesh claiming their villages had been razed and that Myanmar troops were indiscriminately killing people. Many reportedly arrived with serious injuries. Children as young as seven have been treated at clinics for gunshot wounds.
Those who managed to escape have said that the military have raped women, too. Reports have also come out that said Myanmar placed landmines on the border to attack those who flee. One military source within Myanmar said that officials placed those land mines “in the 1990s to prevent trespassing and that the military had since tried to remove them but that none had been planted recently.” From The Washington Post:
Shaheen Abdur Rahman Choudhury, the head of Sadar Hospital in Cox’s Bazar, the biggest town near the border influx, said doctors have seen several patients in recent days with wounds consistent with those from land mines, most of whom had been taken to a larger medical college hospital in Chittagong for treatment.
On Saturday, the human rights group Amnesty International said that land mines have injured at least three civilians, including two children, and reportedly have killed at least one man, calling their introduction into the crisis “another low in what is already a horrific situation in Rakhine State.”
Myanmar Leader Won’s Attend UN General Assembly
Myanmar de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has decided not to attend the United Nations general assembly next week. Htay explained:
“The first reason is because of the Rakhine terrorist attacks,” he said. “The second reason is there are people inciting riots in some areas … The third is that we are hearing that there will be terrorist attacks and we are trying to address this issue.”
Or it could be the fact that almost everyone in the international community has condemned her silence and non-action as the genocide continues. Ironically, she received a lot of praise last year at the UN general assembly when she pledged “to uphold the rights of minorities.”
Obviously except for the Rohingya.
Aung San Suu Kyi won the hearts of everyone as a political prisoner when she pushed for democratic reforms in Myanmar when the military controlled the country. She won the Nobel Peace prize in 1991 for her efforts. But now her fellow Nobel Peace prize winners have turned against her. From The Guardian:
Five fellow Nobel peace prize winners have added their voices to a chorus of international calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to defend the rights of the Rohingya people. Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman signed a letter asking her: “How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice in defence of those who have no voice?”
The UN Response
On Tuesday, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN’s top human rights official, finally acknowledged the ethnic cleansing that is occurring in Myanmar. From Reuters:
“We have received multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages, and consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians,” Zeid said.
“I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population,” he added.
“The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke about the situation to reporters at the UN. From CNN:
“Grievances that have been left to fester for decades have now escalated beyond Myanmar’s borders, destabilizing the region,” Guterres told reporters at the United Nations. “The humanitarian situation … is catastrophic.”
Guterres said many women and children were arriving in Bangladesh “hungry and malnourished.” Reports of attacks on civilians by Myanmar security forces are “disturbing” and “completely unacceptable,” he said.
“I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country,” Guterres said, who also urged countries to provide aid.
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