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‘The military plan to wipe out all Muslims in Myanmar’

Arafatul Islam, multimedia journalist and blogger at Deutsche Welle

“This village is a Muslim-free zone,” reads a sign hanging at the entrance to a village in an area of Myanmar outside Rakhine state. The orders are directed at the country’s Rohingya population, an ethnic group of around 1.3 million that live mainly in Rakhine and who have been described as the “world’s most persecuted minority”.

It’s not difficult to see why. Since 1992 the Burmese government has imposed heavy restrictions on the Rohingyas. If they want to travel from one town to the other they have to pass immigration checkpoints and to do so the administration must grant them permission.

Because requests are regularly turned down the Rohingyas have become isolated within their own country:

“They’ve kept us in an open air prison for more than 25 years. Since 1978 they are propagating and they are brain washing the public that these people are invading the country, that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,” says Nay San Lwin, an activist and blogger who has adopted the prefix “Ro” on social media to identify himself as Rohingya.

“This is our own native land,” he continues. “We gave them an open channel to debate with us but nobody dares to debate with us because they know they are lying.”

“We entered the Rakhine land before the seventh century, then the Rakhine Buddhists invaded us in the eleventh century. Those living in the southern part were driven out from the southern side to the northern side. [Then they said] these people are invading our country from the northern side. It’s similar to Israel and Palestine’s history, as we know Palestinians became like the immigrants.”

As Muslims the Rohingya already live in a majority Buddhist country but the military, says San Lwin, want Myanmar to be “pure Buddhist”. To achieve this they stoke tension between the Buddhists and Muslims and try and force the Rohingya to flee:

“Rakhine has two or three insurgency groups fighting for the land. The Burmese government always creates communal problems and keeps them busy so they are always fighting with the Muslims and they have no time to fight with the Burmese government.”

Read more: Despite allegation of genocide Israel refuses to stop arms sales to Myanmar

In addition to this Rohingyas are barred from entering certain professions; they are discriminated against in the education system, in health services and when they are practicing their religion.

When Myanmar won its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948 the Rohingya were recognised as an official ethnic group and enjoyed full citizenship rights. But in 1974 the government launched operation Jasmine and took away their citizenship and national registration cards.

After it had effectively rendered them stateless some 270,000 Rohingyas fled the country. Under the 1982 citizenship law the government asked everybody to apply for a new citizenship card, many of which were refused on the basis that Myanmar did not recognise them as one of its 135 ethnic groups.

In 2001 San Lwin left Myanmar legally to work in Saudi Arabia because back then his parents were officials of the state and had citizenship. But eventually the embassy stopped renewing his passport, he became stateless, and he migrated to Europe.

A particularly vicious wave of violence against the Rohingya began in August this year when the military launched an “anti-terror” operation, beating, raping, shooting and torturing Rohingyas and burning down their villages.

If you count the Rohingyas who have previously fled the country, there are now roughly 800,000 who are seeking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. Videos posted on social media capture hundreds of Rohingyas walking through mud and water barefoot, their possessions gathered in bundles on their back.

Read: Protest against ‘genocide’ in Myanmar

Much of the anger has been directed at Myanamar’s de facto leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has failed to condemn the army’s abuses and has instead labelled the Rohingya terrorists, argued that the military are victims of a misinformation campaign and even accused women of reporting fake rapes.

Suu Kyi seems to be indifferent to her long fall from grace. Over 400,000 people have signed an online petition to strip her of her peace prize, led by those who campaigned for her release in the late eighties when she was held under house arrest for her efforts to bring democracy to a country living under a military dictatorship and was consequently revered as a symbol of peace.

“She was my hero too in the past,” San Lwin tells me. “We supported her, all Rohingya supported her; our expectation was that the Rohingya’s situation would change if she got into power. But sadly the opposite is happening. We did many campaigns when she was under house arrest – demonstrations in UK and France, online petitions, we celebrated her birthday.”

When Suu Kyi founded the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in 1988 many Rohingyas joined her party in northern Rakhine state, San Lwin tells me. In the 1990 election four candidates from northern Rakhine stood but they didn’t win mainly because the Rohingyas had their own political party.

“All the Rohingya members got their identity cards from the party and on those cards the Rohingya name was clearly mentioned. Now all those party members are denied their existence,” he says.

Burmese stateswoman, Aung San Suu Kyi

Between 1948 and 2015 Rohingyas enjoyed their full voting rights and were elected into parliament. Whilst Suu Kyi was under house arrest one of the founders of the NLD branch in Buthidaung Township, U Kyaw Maung, was arrested repeatedly by military intelligence and tortured to death for refusing to resign from the party.

San Lwin doesn’t think there are any Rohingya left who still support Suu Kyi: “She never took the side of the Rohingya people or the other ethnic minorities. She doesn’t want to lose her position because she struggled for many, many years to get this position, that’s the reason she’s not condemning [the violence]. On the other hand she’s taken the side of the military, which means she’s against us. Also she’s denying our existence.”

Read more: The Rohingya are the victims of state terrorism it must be stopped

On the whole, news coverage in the West of the latest atrocities have been pretty accurate, reckons San Lwin. However India – where Islamophobia is rising and hate crimes against Muslims are increasing – is pumping out a lot of fake news whilst China is simply a propaganda machine for the [Myanmar] government, says San Lwin.

Officially, the Myanmar government is not allowing any reporters – or unofficially any aid – into Rakhine state but earlier this week the Chinese media visited the area. “One of the reasons they are burning all the houses and clearing the land is they have an agreement with China,” says San Lwin.

The $10 billion Kyauk Pyu Special Economic Zone Project agreed between China and Myanmar will see oil and gas pipes built in Rakhine state and has been criticised by activists who question whose land will be appropriated for construction to begin, and where the people living there will go.

San Lwin believes that the main reason behind all this violence is not necessarily this project. Neither is it the physical appearance of the Rohingya, nor their ethnic group or the language they speak. The problem, says San Lwin, is their religion.

Read: ‘Myanmar’s Suu Kyi’s Noble Prize cannot be revoked’

Ethnic groups such as the Dainet or the Marmagyi share the Rohingyas physical appearance, language, tradition and culture yet are not Muslims, so they are recognised as official ethnic groups and have been granted full citizenship rights. Other Muslims in the country, says San Lwin, are also suffering:

“[The military] have a plan to wipe out all the Muslims in the country. This is the long-term plan. In 20 years, after they have cleared all the Rohingya population, there will be other ethnic cleansing of the other Muslim minorities in the country.”

(Source / 29.09.2017)

UN Warns of Catastrophe as 150,000 People Flee Myanmar for Bangladesh

Nearly 125,000 Rohingya refugees - seen as illegal immigrants in Buddhist Myanmar - have crossed into Bangladesh in recent weeks fleeing a security sweep by Myanmar forces who have been torching villages in response to attacks by Rohingya militants

Nearly 125,000 Rohingya refugees – seen as illegal immigrants in Buddhist Myanmar – have crossed into Bangladesh in recent weeks fleeing a security sweep by Myanmar forces who have been torching villages in response to attacks by Rohingya militants

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday voiced his concern about violencetaking place in Rakhine state in Myanmar, calling on authorities to take steps to provide Muslim Rohingyas there with “a normal life.”

Nearly 150,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed the border to Bangladesh in less than two weeks, officials said on Wednesday after Guterres warned there is a risk of ethnic cleansing in the former Burma that could spiral into a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

The UN Chief said that he has officially written to the Security Council, calling for a strong message to be sent to Myanmar on the need to end the violence in Rakhine and ringing alarm bells on the security, humanitarian and human rights situation.

“The grievances and unresolved plight of the Rohingya have festered for far too long and are becoming an undeniable factor in regional destabilization,” Guterres told reporters in New York. “This will only further increase radicalization.”

“The authorities in Myanmar must take determined action to put an end to this vicious cycle of violence and to provide security and assistance to all those in need.”

The UN chief last week had called for restraint by the security forces to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe from the refugee exodus, but on Tuesday he stepped up the pressure, appealing to authorities to end the violence.

Myanmar’s government must grant the Rohingya “either nationality or at least, for now, a legal status that will alow them to have a normal life including freedom of movement, access to labor markets, education and health services,” he said.

The Muslim Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants in mainly Buddhist Myanmar and have suffered decades of persecution, according to rights groups.

The United Nations has repeatedly called on Myanmar to grant the Rohingya rights, and a recent UN report said the brutal crackdown against the Muslim minority could amount to crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, UN agencies in the region appealed on Tuesday for $18 million to aid for three months the civilians who are rushing into Bangladesh.

“Clear signs that more will cross into Bangladesh from Myanmar before situation stabilizes,” said the Director of Operations and Emergencies at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mohammed Abdiker, on Twitter. “Without more int[ernational] support, suffering will continue.”

Thousands of people are arriving daily in south-eastern Bangladesh, living in makeshift sites and seeking any space for shelter.

(Source / 06.09.2017)

Israel arming Myanmar amid ongoing Rohingya crackdown

Thousands of Rohingya refugees continue to flee Myanmar as the army intensifies its crackdown against the minority group

Satellite images showed Rohingya villages in the Rakhine state burned to the ground

Israel has continued to sell weapons to Myanmar as thousands of Rohingya refugees flee the military’s violent crackdown in the Rakhine state.

The weapons sold to Myanmar include over 100 tanks, weapons and boats used to police the country’s border, according to human rights groups and Burmese officials.

Israeli arms companies such as TAR Ideal Concepts have also been involved in training Burmese special forces who are currently in the Rakhine state where most of the violence has taken place. Images previously posted on the arms company’s website showed its staff instructing members of the Burmese special forces on combat tactics and how to use specific weapons.

Petition to ban arms exports to Myanmar

In September, the Israeli High Court of Justice is expected to hear a petition, launched by activists, urging the Israeli government to stop arms exports to Myanmar.

The US and EU have an arms embargo against Myanmar.

Eitay Mack, the lawyer presenting the petition, told Middle East Eye that Israel has “no control” over its arms exports once they are sent overseas.

“Israel has no control of what’s happening with its weapons once it sends its weapons to Burma,” said Mack, an Israeli human rights lawyer based in Tel Aviv.

“But from TAR Ideal’s website, we know that they are arming and training Burmese special forces who are operating in the Rakhine state right now.”

The petition was submitted in January, following visits by Israeli officials to Myanmar to discuss arms deals, and vice versa.

After the petition was submitted, the Israeli defence ministry in March said the court had no jurisdiction over the issue and claimed that arms sales to Myanmar were “clearly diplomatic”.

Israel has shared a strong relationship with Myanmar and maintained trade relations over the years. These relations existed before the military junta stepped down.

Weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as ‘field-tested’ to some of the worst regimes on the planet

– Ofer Neiman, human rights activist

Ofer Neiman, an Israeli human rights activist, said Israel’s relationship with Myanmar is linked to its ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

“Successive Israeli governments have been selling arms to the military dictatorship in Burma for years,” Neiman told MEE.

“This policy is strongly related to Israel’s oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Weapons used against the Palestinians are being sold as ‘field-tested’ to some of the worst regimes on the planet.”

Myanmar’s military chief on Friday defended the clearing of villages, attempting to justify it as “unfinished business” dating back to World War Two. 

‘Supporting genocide’

Penny Green, an academic who has documented alleged war crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya people, told MEE that many governments “have lent their support to the current genocide”.

“It’s not at all surprising that the latest escalation in Myanmar’s genocide of the Rohingya has not moved the Israeli state to cease its supply of weapons to Myanmar’s military,” said Green, director of the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University.

“Its own record of violence and terror against the Palestinian people of Gaza is clear enough evidence that the Israeli government is unmoved by ethical concerns and human rights.

“Last year the British government spent over £300,000 of taxpayers’ money in training the Myanmar military and commander in chief General Min Aung Hlaing was welcomed by EU heads of military eager to engage in arms sales and training,” she added, citing figures from the Burma Campaign organisation.

More than 60,000 Rohingya refugees have fled their homes to seek refuge in Bangladesh as violence escalates in the Rakhine state.

Satellite images show dozens of Rohingya villages burned to the ground by the Myanmar army.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday accused Myanmar of perpetrating a genocide against the Rohingya.

Neither the Israeli defence ministry or the Israeli embassy in the UK have replied to a request for comment.

(Source / 05.09.2017)

Myanmar: Major ethnic groups and where they live

There are 135 ethnic groups in the country but Rohingya Muslims are rendered stateless and stripped of citizenship.

Myanmar officially recognises 135 ethnic groups but Rohingya Muslims have been rendered stateless and stripped of their citizenship.

The Rohingya are often said to be the world’s most persecuted minority. They are an ethnic Muslim group in the majority Buddhist country and make up around one million of the total 50 million population.

They hail from the country’s northwest and speak a Bengali dialect. Almost all live in Rakhine, one of the poorest states, with a population of three million.

About 140,000 Rohingya in the Rakhine state live in ghetto-like camps that they cannot leave without government permission.

Below is a map of the country showing where each major ethnic group tends to live.

rohingya ethnic groups myanmar muslims infographic

(Source / 09.03.2017)

At least 65,000 Rohingya Muslims flee from Myanmar to Bangladesh: UN

Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who tried to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence, are kept under watch by Bangladeshi security officials in Teknaf on December 25, 2016.  (Photo by AFP)

Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who tried to cross the Naf River into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence, are kept under watch by Bangladeshi security officials in Teknaf on December 25, 2016

At least 65,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution and violence in Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since the army launched a crackdown in the northwestern Rakhine State early October, the United Nations says.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its weekly report  on Monday that 22,000 Rohingya had fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh over the past week.

“Over the past week, 22,000 new arrivals were reported to have crossed the border from Rakhine state,” the UN relief agency said, adding, “As of 5 January, an estimated 65,000 people are residing in registered camps, makeshift settlements and host communities” in Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh.

The latest figure marks a sharp escalation in the numbers fleeing a military campaign.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims are living in Bangladesh, with the vast majority of them having taken refuge in makeshift settlements, official refugee camps and villages in Bangladesh’s resort district of Cox’s Bazar.

Many of those interviewed by journalists have told horrific stories of gang-rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar’s government forces.

Meanwhile, a United Nations (UN) special envoy has arrived in Myanmar to begin an investigation into the brutal and deadly military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the country.

Yanghee Lee, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, arrived in the country late on Sunday and will visit Rakhine State, where the Rohingya have been subjected to executions, rape, and arson attacks since October.

The developments come as Myanmar’s military launched a fresh wave of crackdown on Muslims after a deadly attack on the country’s border guards on October 9 left nine policemen dead. The government blamed the Rohingya for the assault.

This file photo taken on October 14, 2016 shows armed military troops and police force traveling in trucks through Maungdaw, located in Rakhine State

There have been numerous accounts by eyewitnesses of summary executions, rapes and arson attacks against Muslims since the crackdown began. The military has blocked access to Rakhine and banned journalists and aid workers from entering the zone.

The United Nations has warned that ongoing human rights violations against the Rohingya in Rakhine could be tantamount to “crimes against humanity.”

Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from their homes to live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. This as the Rohingya are believed to be a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar.

According to the UN, the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

(Source / 09.01.2017)

Disturbing Video Confirms Myanmar’s Human Rights Abuses Against Rohingya

The footage has made it more difficult for the government to say at least some abuses are not happening, and sown doubts into its dismissals of more grievous allegations such as rape, arson and murder.

YANGON, Myanmar (REPORT) — Newly revealed video of Myanmar police beating Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine state has weakened months of government claims that its forces have not committed abuses in the tense and isolated region it has largely closed off to foreigners since a deadly insurgent attack in October.

The footage has made it more difficult for the government to say at least some abuses are not happening, and sown doubts into its dismissals of more grievous allegations such as rape, arson and murder.

Authorities quickly verified the video and detained the officers who were seen beating and kicking residents in a large-scale roundup.

According to the office of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the clip was posted to social media Dec. 31 but recorded Nov. 5 in a village called Kotankauk in the north of Rakhine, a state in western Myanmar where most of Myanmar’s more than 1 million Rohingya live. It was apparently filmed by a police officer, who recorded the beating while looking impassively into the camera and smoking a cigarette.

Aye Aye Soe, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, insisted the event “has to be an isolated case.”

“You cannot just look at one incident and think, that’s the whole thing that is happening.”

She said that if the government is presented with facts, it will respond in kind, but that “it’s sort of mixed up and confusing over there,” and many allegations are difficult to verify.

“Come back with something concrete, and we will give you back something concrete,” she said.

Most journalists and aid workers, however, have been blocked from the area of Rakhine where abuses have been alleged.

Myat Thu, a former political prisoner and chairman of the Yangon School of Political Science, said the incident “undermines the government position a lot.” Asked whether he thought the video represented an isolated case, he said sarcastically, “I will say there are so many ‘isolated incidents’ in Rakhine state.”

The police were taking part in a search for militants from a fledgling insurgent group that says it is fighting for the rights of the stateless Muslim minority, who lack Myanmar citizenship though Rohingya have lived in the country for generations.

The militants killed nine police officers and stole weapons from their posts Oct. 9 in northern Rakhine state, setting off a “clearance operation” that resulted in tens of thousands of Rohingya fleeing across the border to camps in Bangladesh. Rohingya and rights groups say dozens have been killed as part of the operation, and the displaced have shared horrific tales that officials have repeatedly characterized as fabrications.

Police in the video were responding to an alleged follow-up attack in early November that killed one officer.

The state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar published details about the video Monday, but the next day returned to casting doubt on abuse claims with an article headlined, “Fabricated Stories, Misleading Pictures About Rakhine Cause Global Criticism.”

While some patently false videos and photos have been disseminated, rights groups say there are many legitimate abuse claims that demand an independent, international investigation.

“I’d say this video throws a stick in the spokes,” Matthew Smith, executive director of the NGO Fortify Rights, said in an email.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who heads a government-appointed commission to suggest ways to resolve tensions between Rakhine’s Muslim and Buddhist communities, recently visited the area and met with Myanmar leaders. He expressed concern about reports of human rights abuses but did not comment on their credibility, saying, “We didn’t go there to investigate.” He called for aid agencies to be allowed in as soon as possible and said he hoped media would be granted access as well.

(Source / 03.01.2017)

Now In Bangladesh, Rohingya Muslims Describe Rape, Murder In Myanmar

Muslims in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, the Rohingya have long faced persecution in Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship.

Mohsena Begum, a Rohingya who escaped to Bangladesh from Myanmar, holds her child and sits at the entrance of a room of an unregistered refugee camp in Teknaf, near Cox's Bazar, a southern coastal district about, 296 kilometers (183 miles) south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Dec. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

Mohsena Begum, a Rohingya who escaped to Bangladesh from Myanmar, holds her child and sits at the entrance of a room of an unregistered refugee camp in Teknaf, near Cox’s Bazar, a southern coastal district about, 296 kilometers (183 miles) south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Dec. 2, 2016

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh  — The Myanmar soldiers came in the morning, the young mother says. They set fire to the concrete-and-thatch homes, forcing the villagers to cluster together. When some of her neighbors tried to escape into the fields, they were shot. After that, she says, most people stopped running away.

“They drove us out of our houses, men and women in separate lines, ordering us to keep our hands folded on the back of our heads,” says 20-year-old Mohsena Begum, her voice choking as she described what happened to the little village of Caira Fara, which had long been home to hundreds of members of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya community. She said that when about 50 people had been gathered together, the soldiers, along with a group of local men, pulled four village leaders from the crowd and slit their throats.

Muslims in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, the Rohingya have long faced persecution in Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship. The latest outbreak of violence was triggered by October attacks on guard posts near the Bangladesh border that killed nine police officers. While the attackers’ identities and motives are unclear, the government launched a massive counter-insurgency sweep through Rohingya areas in western Rakhine state. Most Rohingya live in Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh.

The government, which has implied the attacks were carried out by Rohingya sympathizers, has acknowledged using helicopter gunships in support of ground troops in the sweep. While survivors and human rights groups have tracked waves of anti-Rohingya violence in recent weeks, the Myanmar government insists that stories like Begum’s are exaggerations.

Myanmar’s leader, the Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has accused the international community of stoking unrest.

A portrait of Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi with her mouth covered with a sandal displayed on a mobile phone screen is shown by a protester during a demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 against the murder, displacement and persecution of Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A portrait of Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi with her mouth covered with a sandal displayed on a mobile phone screen is shown by a protester during a demonstration in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 against the murder, displacement and persecution of Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar

“It doesn’t help if everybody is just concentrating on the negative side of the situation, in spite of the fact that there were attacks on police outposts,” she said in a recent interview on Singapore’s Channel News Asia.

Suu Kyi, whose party took power in March after decades of military-backed rule, has been accused of not acting strongly enough to curb the violence against the more than 1 million Rohingya believed to be in the country. Although many have lived in Rakhine for generations, they are widely seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

“It helps if people recognize the difficulty and are more focused on resolving these difficulties rather than exaggerating them, so that everything seems worse than it really is,” she said in the interview.

But Begum says she has no need to exaggerate what happened in Caira Fara.

She said that after the four leaders were killed, violence churned through the village in chaotic scenes of horror. Begum’s husband, a poor, illiterate farm laborer, was beaten and then murdered by having his throat slit, along with an unknown number of other villagers, she said. Their bodies were eventually driven away in a truck.

She said attackers knocked her young son knocked from her grasp, then raped her.

Finally, when the soldiers weren’t paying attention, she grabbed her son and ran into the nearby hills. After hiding for two days, her brother gave her enough money — about $38 — to pay smugglers to get her and her son into Bangladesh.

When Bangladeshi border guards stopped them, she began to weep.

“I told them I have no one to protect me there,” she says, and told them: “‘Look at my baby! He will die if I go back there.’” After that, they let her pass.

Much of Rakhine has been closed to outsiders, including journalists, since the violence began. However, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, leader of a commission formed to investigate the situation in Rakhine state, was allowed to visit in recent days. He is expected to hold a press conference Tuesday in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city.

Along the banks of the Naf River, which marks the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, it’s not difficult to find people who can talk about what is happening.

Some 15,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh over past month, often brought in by smugglers, according to police and intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the government refuses to release numbers publicly. They have joined up to 500,000 undocumented Rohingya who have been living in Bangladesh after arriving from Myanmar in waves since the 1970s. Some 33,000 registered Rohingya refugees live the Cox’s Bazar district. Bangladesh does not welcome Rohingya — its maritime patrols sometimes turn back refugee boats full of them — but it is seen as a haven compared to Myanmar.

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Version 4.6.1 Permalink saved Close media panel Insert Media Create Gallery Create Audio Playlist Create Video Playlist Featured Image Insert from URL Soundcloud is Gold Insert Media Upload FilesMedia Library Filter by typeFilter by dateSearch Media Aung San      ATTACHMENT DETAILS   AP_16340457349800.jpg December 5, 2016 279 KB 1600 × 1001 Edit Image Delete Permanently URL http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/AP_16340457349800.jpg Title Bangladesh Fleeing Rohingya Caption In this Dec. 4, 2016 photo, Osman Gani, a Rohingya man from Myanmar, shows a video clip that he shot on his mobile phone as he describes the recent violence standing on the bank of the Naf River, near a camp for Rohingya people who illegally crossed the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Teknaf, near Cox's Bazar, a southern coastal district about, 296 kilometers (183 miles) south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The thin, fast-talking Arabic teacher, fled into nearby fields after his village was attacked on Nov. 11. As he fled north, he used his mobile phone to film destruction in other Rohingya villages he passed through. “They came and killed mercilessly. They burned our homes,” says Gani, standing near the Naf River over the weekend. “No one was there to save us.” (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad) Alt Text Description ATTACHMENT DISPLAY SETTINGS  Alignment Link To  http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/AP_16340457349800.jpg Size 1 selected Clear   Insert into post Choose Files

In this Dec. 4, 2016 photo, Osman Gani, a Rohingya man from Myanmar, shows a video clip that he shot on his mobile phone as he describes the recent violence standing on the bank of the Naf River, near a camp for Rohingya people who illegally crossed the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Teknaf, near Cox’s Bazar, a southern coastal district about, 296 kilometers (183 miles) south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The thin, fast-talking Arabic teacher, fled into nearby fields after his village was attacked on Nov. 11. As he fled north, he used his mobile phone to film destruction in other Rohingya villages he passed through. “They came and killed mercilessly. They burned our homes,” says Gani, standing near the Naf River over the weekend. “No one was there to save us”

The U.N. says up 30,000 Rohingya Muslims have abandoned their homes amid the recent violence. Satellite images analyzed by the rights group Human Rights Watch show 1,250 structures destroyed in November in Rohingya villages.

Osman Gani, a thin, fast-talking Arabic teacher, fled after his village, Gouzo Bil, was attacked Nov. 11.

“They came and killed mercilessly. They burned our homes,” says Gani, standing near the Naf River over the weekend. “No one was there to save us.”

He hid with his family for about a week near the village. But when searches intensified, and with soldiers targeting men, he was forced to leave Myanmar without his family.

“I had no other choice but to leave them behind. I came to the bank of the river and started swimming,” he says. His family was able to join him in Bangladesh a few days later.

As he fled north, he used his mobile phone to film destruction in other Rohingya villages he passed through. In some, the blackened remains of what appear to be children can be seen amid the wreckage of homes. Gani’s voice can be heard in some of the videos but The Associated Press could not confirm their authenticity.

“I have shot videos!” he says, holding out his mobile phone to a reporter. “Don’t you see the charred bodies?”

While he was initially in hiding after the attack, Osmani said he also managed to slip back into his village and film what remained of his home.

As he walks through the village, a child can be heard talking to him.

“Where are you coming from?” the boy asks.

Gani doesn’t answer, instead asking, “Where’s my cow?”

Then he pans through the ashes and broken concrete. “This is my land, my home,” he says. “This is Puitta’s. This is Uncle Yunus.”

(Source / 06.12.2016)

Rohingya face Myanmar ‘ethnic cleansing’: UN official

UNHCR chief accuses country’s troops of killing men and raping women, forcing stateless minority to flee to Bangladesh.

Hundreds of thousands live in camps in Bangladesh

Myanmar is carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims, a United Nations official has said, as stories of gang rape, torture and murder emerge from among the thousands who have fled to Bangladesh.

Up to 30,000 members of the ethnic community have abandoned their homes in Myanmar to escape the unfolding violence, the UN said, after troops poured into the narrow strip where they live earlier this month.

John McKissick, head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox’s Bazar, told the BBC that troops were “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river” into Bangladesh.

READ MORE: Who are the Rohingya?

Bangladesh has resisted urgent international appeals to open its border to avert a humanitarian crisis, instead telling Myanmar it must do more to prevent the stateless Rohingya minority from entering.

“It’s very difficult for the Bangladeshi government to say the border is open because this would further encourage the government of Myanmar to continue the atrocities and push them out until they have achieved their ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority in Myanmar,” McKissick said.

A spokesman for Myanmar President Htin Kyaw criticised the comments.

“I would like to question the professionalism and ethics which should be followed and respected by UN staff. He should speak based on concrete and true facts, he shouldn’t make accusations,” Zaw Htay told AFP news agency.

Ethnic cleansing

It is not the first time ethnic-cleansing claims have been made against Myanmar.

In April 2013 Human Rights Watch said it was conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya – an accusation rejected by Thein Sein, the  then president,  as a “smear campaign”.

The scale of human suffering was becoming clear on Thursday, as desperate people such as Mohammad Ayaz told how troops attacked his village and killed his pregnant wife.

Cradling his two-year-old son, he said troops killed at least 300 men in the village market and gang-raped dozens of women before setting fire to around 300 homes, Muslim-owned shops and the mosque where he served as imam.

INVESTIGATION: Genocide Agenda

“They shot dead my wife, Jannatun Naim. She was 25 and seven months pregnant. I took refuge at a canal with my two-year-old son, who was hit by a rifle butt,” Ayaz said.

Ayaz sold his watch and shoes to pay for the journey and has taken shelter at a camp for unregistered Rohingya refugees.

Many of those seeking shelter say they walked for days and used rickety boats to cross into Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of registered Rohingya refugees have been living for decades.

The Rohingya are viewed as illegal immigrants  by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar who call them “Bengali”, even though many have lived there for generations.

Most live in the impoverished western Rakhine state, but are denied citizenship and smothered by restrictions on movement and work.

Bangladesh said on Wednesday that it had summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to express “deep concern”.

Since the latest violence flared up, Bangladesh border guards have intensified patrols and the coastguard has deployed extra ships.

Officials say they have stopped around a thousand Rohingya Muslims at the border since Monday.

Satellite images

Human Rights Watch said this week it had identified, using satellite images, more than 1,000 homes in Rohingya villages that had been razed in northwestern Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military has denied burning villages and even blamed the Rohingya themselves.

Rohingya community leaders said hundreds of families had taken shelter in camps in the border towns of Teknaf and Ukhia, many hiding for fear they would be sent back to Myanmar.

Police on Wednesday detained 70 Rohingya, including women and children, who they say will be sent back across the border.

Pre-destruction imagery of Kyet Yoe Pyin, Maungdaw district, from March 30
Post-destruction satellite imagery of Kyet Yoe Pyin from November 10

(Source / 25.11.2016)

Fresh attacks ‘kill dozens’ in campaign against Rohingya

Satellite photos released Sunday show entire villages destroyed, apparently by fire. Full report below.

YANGON – Myanmar’s Rakhine state was hit by fresh waves of violence over the weekend with more than 30 “insurgents” killed during two days of fighting, the military said, as proof emerged of atrocities against villagers.

Northern Rakhine, which is home to the Muslim Rohingya minority and borders Bangladesh, has been under military lockdown ever since surprise raids on border posts left nine police dead last month.

Soldiers have killed scores and arrested many more in their hunt for the attackers, who the government claims are radicalised Rohingya militants with links to overseas Islamists it has not named.

Also during the weekend, strong evidence emerged in the form of satellite photos that Myanmar security forces are literally using scorched-earth tactics, burning entire villages to the ground in the escalated anti-Rohingya campaign.

The photos, released by Human Rights Watch, are before-and-after views of three villages in embattled Maungdaw district.

The claims of a previously unknown Rohingya crisis, along with credible reports of grave rights abuses by the security forces have piled international pressure on Myanmar’s new civilian government.

There now are questions about the ability of the government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi to control the military. The leader has not been heard from in days, and criticism has mounted at her refusal to speak out for protecting the Rohingya – whom she calls Bengalis.

The satellite photos appear to show that entire villages in Maungdaw have been put to the torch recently, with 430 buildings, mostly homes and farm buildings, destroyed.

Photo analysts say the buildings seem to have been burnt to the ground. This has raised suspicions that the army and police have launched campaigns against entire Rohingya villages.

The latest images were taken on Nov 10 and were released Sunday.

Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, said the new photos showed “widespread destruction” that was “greater than we first thought”.

“Burmese authorities should promptly establish a UN-assisted investigation as a first step toward ensuring justice and security for the victims,” he said in a statement.

The military and government have rejected allegations that troops have burned Rohingya villages. They have accused “insurgents” of lighting the fires and burning their own villages.

HRW says it identified 430 buildings, mostly homes and farm buildings, destroyed in three villages of Maungdaw district in Rakhine state, all of them likely burnt to the ground.

The first set of photos below shows before-and-after satellite views of Kyet Yoe Pyin, where photos show 245 buildings destroyed.

The second set of photos below shows Wa Peik village, where photo analysts say exactly 100 buildings were destroyed.

The state has sizzled with religious tension ever since waves of violence between the majority Buddhist population and the Muslim Rohingya left more than 200 dead in 2012.

More than 100,000 people, mostly Rohingya, were pushed into displacement camps by the bloodshed and have languished there ever since.

Rights groups say they face apartheid-like restrictions on movement and have repeatedly called on Suu Kyi to carve out a solution.

But Buddhist nationalists at home viciously oppose any move to grant them citizenship, claiming the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh despite their long roots in the country.

Days of apparent calm were shattered on Saturday when the army said six attackers and two soldiers were killed during a series of coordinated ambushes that were only beaten back with the help of helicopter gunships.

The toll then jumped on Sunday following further clashes.

In a statement late Sunday, Myanmar’s military said 22 attackers armed with swords were killed near Dar Gyi Zar village on Sunday morning after they charged at soldiers.

Six other insurgents were killed during clashes elsewhere in the state on Sunday, the statement added.

Authorities have heavily restricted access to the area, making it difficult to independently verify government reports or accusations of army abuse.

On Saturday evening, Rohingya activists uploaded a graphic video showing the corpses of eight people dressed in civilian clothes, including a small baby.

The video’s shooter, speaking in Rohingya, said the victims died that day near Dar Gyi Zar village, with some showing bullet wounds.

We will not re-publish that image, which in any case cannot be verified.

But the Rohingyablogger.com website released these photos during the weekend. They reportedly show burning homes in Pwint Phyu Chaung village of Maungdaw district, the same area where the satellite photos were taken, and women and children erfugees fleeing the violence, with almost no possessions.

The resurgence of violence in western Rakhine has deepened and complicated a crisis that already posed a critical challenge to the new administration led by Ms Suu Kyi.

Activists have launched a petition at Change.org calling on the Nobel Peace Prize committee to recall her prize, awarded in 1991 for opposing military regimes.

(Source / 16.11.2016)

Rohingya women say Myanmar soldiers raped them amid crackdown

In this photograph, taken on October 21, 2016, Myanmar troops patrol a village in Rakhine State. (Photo by AFP)

In this photograph, taken on October 21, 2016, Myanmar troops patrol a village in Rakhine State

Dozens of Rohingya Muslim women in Myanmar’s Rakhine state say government forces have committed acts of rape or sexual assault against them.

Eight Rohingya women, all from the remote U Shey Kya village, described in detail how soldiers last week raped them at gun point, while raiding their homes and looting property, according to Reuters news agency on Friday.

Myanmar deployed troops to Rakhine earlier this month following alleged attacks on police posts along the border with Bangladesh, which authorities blamed on Rohingya Muslims.

One 40-year-old woman said four soldiers raped her and assaulted her 15-year-old daughter, while stealing jewelry and cash from the family.

“They took me inside the house. They tore my clothes and they took my headscarf off…,” she said.

Another woman, 32, described being knocked off her feet by soldiers and repeatedly raped. “They told me, ‘We will kill you. We will not allow you to live in this country,’” she said.

The women said the soldiers took gold, money and anything that was valuable from their bamboo huts and burned down village homes and spoiled rice stores by pouring sand on them.

This file image shows Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea, May 14, 2015

One 30-year-old woman said he did not have clothes or food to eat after everything was destroyed. “I’m feeling ashamed and scared,” Reuters quoted the unnamed woman as saying.

Five more women from U Shey Kya also detailed how soldiers had raped them. The accounts were confirmed by at least three male residents of the village and a Rohingya community leader.

U Shey Kya village’s official administrator, Armah Harkim, said he was verifying the accounts which most residents believed to be true. The residents said about 150 soldiers attacked U Shey Kya on October 19.

A presidential spokesman accused the villagers of fabricating the news while confirming that government troops had conducted a sweep of the village on October 19.

Most male residents have reportedly left the village as they believed they would be suspected as militants. The women said they stayed behind fearing that the military would burn down empty homes.

Residents said the soldiers dismantled the fences around the houses after the military declared northern Rakhine State an “operation zone.”

The UN has called on Myanmar to investigate new reports of human rights violations, including the killing of unarmed people and torching of rural settlements in Rakhine state.

Rights groups say troops have gone on a rampage, which has forced terrified civilians to flee their homes.

Rakhine, where Rohingya Muslims form the majority population, has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012.

Hundreds of people have been killed, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and live in squalid camps in dire situations in Myanmar and other countries in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

According to the UN, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The government denies full citizenship to Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even as many trace their lineage in Myanmar back generations.

(Source / 28.10.2016)