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.
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.
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.