No words to describe this situation.
Finally. After months of the Myanmar armed forces killing, raping, and destroying the Muslim minority Rohingya, the United Nations described the violence as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
From Reuters (emphasis mine):
“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.”
Genocide. It’s not helpful to throw around the g-word, but that’s exactly what is occurring in Myanmar. Making matters worse, the genocide has been met with silence from leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace prize dissident who captured the hearts of the west and won praise when she became the de facto leader in 2015.
Rohingya Muslims have faced persecution in the Buddhist country for decades. 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. Most of them reside in Rakhine State, located in western Myanmar.
This latest violence outbreak started last October when Rohingya unsuccessfully attacked state security forces after 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 — including the U.N. rights rapporteur to Myanmar, Yanghee Lee — that the heightened security measures could further inflame tensions.” It did not end well for the Rohingya. 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.
The Rohingya attacked again on August 25, which caused the military to respond with more violence. Reports have come out that the Myanmar government has placed landmines at the border while refugees have said that officers will just shoot at anyone fleeing. TIME continued:
The recent exodus is just the latest in several waves of mass migration over the past four decades, and by most measures it is the worst. The Myanmar government has said about 400 people died during the renewed conflict; Bangladeshi officials claim the number of dead has exceeded 3,000. Countless others are now at risk of preventable deaths in refugee settlements and remote areas unreachable by humanitarian aid workers. The total number of Rohingya now sheltering in camps in Bangladesh has reached about 700,000, with new arrivals joining the hundreds of thousands who fled violence in previous years. The exact Rohingya population is unknown (the group was excluded from Myanmar’s 2014 census, the country’s first count in more than three decades), but the number of people displaced over the past three weeks alone could represent more than a third of the estimated 1.1 million believed to reside in Myanmar.
Many Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh, but have not received a very warm welcome. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on Myanmar to stop the violence and take back the Rohingya. From The Wall Street Journal:
The Bangladeshi prime minister visited a refugee camp that has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees and demanded that Myanmar “take steps to take their nationals back.”
“We will not tolerate injustice,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at a rally Tuesday at the Kutupalong refugee camp, near the border town of Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district.
On Monday night, she accused Buddhist-majority Myanmar of committing “atrocities” and said that Bangladesh had long protested the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
But as I said on Twitter, they go back, they are dead. The Myanmar government has also blocked aid groups from observing the situation or even passing out humanitarian aid.
And while Hasina’s message appears welcoming and promised to keep them until Myanmar takes them back, but Bangladesh is not happy about it. From the BBC:
Rohingya families have been arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar in waves since the 1970s. About 32,000 registered refugees live in the two official camps, but more than 300,000 undocumented Rohingyas were also estimated to be in Bangladesh before this latest influx.
Bangladesh says their presence strains local resources, increases crime and deters tourists in the Cox’s Bazar area.
Earlier this year, it backed a plan to transfer them to an island in the Bay of Bengal, Thengar Char, but rights groups said the island was unfit for human habitation due to seasonal flooding.
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