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.