Myanmar (NM) – In the last 3 weeks, escalating violence in Myanmar (Burma) has forced around 380,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh. With a UN official declaring on Monday that this is a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’, who are the…
How the international community is failing to protect the Rohingya people.
At this moment, a genocide is happening in Myanmar of which most of the world is unaware. On 9 October 2016, three border posts were attacked in Western Myanmar by an unknown armed group, killing nine policemen. Following the attack, Myanmar government forces have been conducting a coordinated attack on the civilian population which includes mass killing, rape, torture and the burning of houses and crop fields. Because security forces have locked down the whole area, it is difficult to verify the reports of violence. Utilising independent sources, Voice of America has reported that the death toll could be 150 to 300 so far. Based on satellite imagery, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has observed that 1,250 houses or buildings have been destroyed as of 18 November.
As a result of the military crackdown, thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes; many are attempting to enter neighbouring Bangladesh by crossing the Naaf river. However, the Bangladeshi government has refused to accept more Rohingya, stating that the highly-populated country is already hosting half a million Rohingya who have fled the previous violence.
Malaysia accused Myanmar of engaging in the “ethnic cleansing” of its Rohingya minority Saturday, as former UN chief Kofi Annan visited a burned out village in strife-torn Rakhine state.
Tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled their homes since a bloody crackdown by the Myanmar army in the western state of Rakhine sparked by a string of deadly attacks on police border posts in early October.
“The fact that only one particular ethnicity is being driven out is by definition ethnic cleansing,” Malaysia’s foreign ministry said in an unusually strongly-worded statement reported by AFP.
820 Newly Identified Destroyed Buildings; UN-Aided Investigation Urgently Needed
New satellite imagery of Burma’s Rakhine State shows 820 newly identified structures destroyed in five different ethnic Rohingya villages between November 10-18, 2016, Human Rights Watch said today. The Burmese government should without further delay invite the United Nations to assist in an impartial investigation of the widespread destruction of villages.
The latest images bring the total number of destroyed buildings documented by Human Rights Watch in northern Rakhine State through satellite imagery to 1,250. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, at a November 17 UN Security Council meeting on the deteriorating situation in Rakhine State, called for international observers to be allowed to investigate and for aid groups to have their access restored. After a short visit by diplomats to the area, Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Burma, said on November 18, “The security forces must not be given carte blanche to step up their operations under the smokescreen of having allowed access to an international delegation. Urgent action is needed to bring resolution to the situation.”
Humanitarian Groups, Journalists, and Rights Monitors Need Access.
The Burmese government and army should urgently ensure humanitarian aid can reach ethnic Rohingya and other vulnerable populations in northern Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch said today. Government security operations have cut off assistance to tens of thousands of people and forced many to flee their homes.
A film critical of the 1962 coup in Myanmar was barred from screening at the annual Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon, the country’s capital.
The government’s Motion Picture Classification Board said the film “Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess” could undermine efforts to promote national reconciliation because of its negative portrayal of the army.
Myanmar is formerly known as Burma.
For human rights groups outside Myanmar, the Rohingya people are among the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world. But for Myanmar authorities and Buddhist nationalists, they are treated as illegal immigrants living in the western Rakhine State.
Myanmar’s foreign ministry is asking other governments to refrain from using the word Rohingya since it is deemed offensive by many people inside the country.
But last month, the United States embassy in Myanmar issued a statement expressing condolence to the families of Rohingya boat refugees who perished in an accident.
…we extend our condolences to the families of the victims, who local reports state were from the Rohingya community. Restrictions on access to markets, livelihoods, and other basic services in Rakhine State can lead to communities unnecessarily risking their lives in an attempt to improve their quality of life.
Myanmar’s “de facto leader” Aung San Suu Kyi recently warned the United States to not refer to the Rohingya ethnic minority as “Rohingya,” in an attempt to deny them the dignity and human rights she and her party posed as renowned defenders of.
For those critically examining and long-following political developments in Myanmar and their wider geopolitical implications for Southeast Asia, Asia, and the world, Aung San Suu Kyi and her “National League for Democracy” (NLD) political front, along with a vast array of Western-funded NGOs’ turning against Myanmar’s Rohingya population after predicating their ascent into power upon “human rights” and “democracy” is no surprise.
For those receiving their news from establishment media networks in the US and Europe, Suu Kyi refusing to recognize the Rohingya, many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations, may seem puzzling, even disappointing, or more disturbingly, an opportunity for excuses.