Agence France-Presse & BBC World News & Will Worley / The Independent – 2017-09-03 19:50:43
Nearly 60,000 Rohingya Refugees Flee Myanmar/Burma Violence
(September 3, 2017) — Police in Bangladesh have reportedly begun ignoring government orders to stop the influx of Rohingyas fleeing violence in Myanmar, as the United Nations confirmed that 58,600 refugees have made it through the border crossing since violence erupted last week.
Human rights groups say Myanmar’s security forces have launched a violent campaign against the country’s minority Rohingya Muslim community in Rakhine State after a Rohingya militant group attacked a police post. Nearly 400 people have died in the ensuing violence, with thousands of homes burned down and civilians attacked by security forces.
“They are beating us, shooting at us and hacking our people to death,” one refugee, Hamida Begum, told CNN. “Many people were killed. Many women were raped and killed,” she said. The violence has prompted condemnation from the UN, which has called on Myanmar forces to use restraint. The World Food Program on Saturday also announced it would be suspending food aid in the area amid the deteriorating situation.
Myanmar Conflict: Bangladesh Police Allow Rohingya to Flee
BBC World News
(September 2, 2017) — Police in Bangladesh are ignoring government orders to prevent people fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar from crossing the border.
A BBC correspondent in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, says members of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslim community are streaming through crossings, without being stopped. The UN now estimates that 58,000 refugees have made it across.
Violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state just over a week ago. Refugees accuse the Myanmar security forces and Buddhist mobs of burning their villages.
The Myanmar government says their security forces are responding to an attack last month on more than 20 police posts by Rohingya militants. Subsequent clashes have sent civilians from all communities fleeing.
Another 20,000 Rohingya are thought to be stuck along the Naf River, which forms the border. Aid agencies say they are at risk from drowning, disease and venomous snakes.
Campaigning group Human Rights Watch has released new satellite imagery from Myanmar which they say shows that more than 700 homes have been burned down in one Rohingya village.
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia director, told the BBC: “As far as we can tell the destruction took place on the 25th [August] in the morning, and it appears to have been complete and total. Approximately 99% of the buildings are destroyed in that village.”
Rakhine, the poorest region in Myanmar, is home to more than a million Rohingya. They have faced decades of persecution in the Buddhist-majority country, where they are not considered citizens.
There have been waves of deadly violence in recent years. The current upsurge is the most significant since October 2016, when nine policemen died in attacks on border posts. Until then, there had been no indication of an armed insurgency, despite the ethnic tensions.
Both the attacks in October and on 25 August were carried out by a group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa). It says its aim is to protect Muslim Rohingya from state repression in Myanmar. The government says it is a terrorist group.
The military also carried out a crackdown after the attacks in October that led to widespread allegations of rape, murder and torture. Tens of thousands of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh then.
The UN is now carrying out a formal investigation, although the Burmese military denies wrongdoing.
Burma: Rohingya Children ‘Beheaded and Burned Alive’
As Refugees Continue to Flood into Bangladesh to Escape Violence
Will Worley / The Independent
(September 2, 2017) — Rohingya children have been beheaded and civilians burned alive, according to witness testimony amid claims that Burma’s military and paramilitary forces are committing “genocide” or a “pogrom” against the Muslim minority in the country’s western Rakhine state.
Around 60,000 refugees are believed to have fled over the country’s western border into Bangladesh in a just a week following a clampdown on Rohingya militants.
The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, called for the violence to end, saying the treatment of the Rohingya was “besmirching the reputation of Burma”, also known as Myanmar, and appealing to Aung San Suu Kyi to act.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has gone much further, accusing Burma’s forces of genocide and saying those who turned a blind eye to events were complicit.
Observers believe the number of displaced people is likely to increase. The Burmese military said 400 militants had been killed in clashes with their forces.
Civilians who escaped gave horrific accounts of violence and destruction by Burmese soldiers and other armed groups.
A man named as Abdul Rahman, 41, said he had survived a five-hour attack on Chut Pyin village. He told Fortifiy Rights, a charity working in the area, that a group of Rohingya men had been rounded up and detained in a bamboo hut, which was then set on fire.
“My brother was killed, [Burmese soldiers] burned him with the group,” he said. “We found [my other family members] in the fields. They had marks on their bodies from bullets and some had cuts. My two nephews, their heads were off. One was six years old and the other was nine years old. My sister-in-law was shot with a gun.”
Another man from the same village, named as Sultan Ahmed, 27, told the charity: “Some people were beheaded, and many were cut. We were in the house hiding when [armed residents from a neighbouring village] were beheading people. “When we saw that, we just ran out the back of the house.”
Survivors from other villages in the region also described seeing people being beheaded or having their throats cut.
“We can’t stress enough the urgency of the situation,” said Matthew Smith, head of Fortify Rights. “The Myanmar authorities are failing to protect civilians and save lives. International pressure is critically needed.”
Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) showed 700 buildings burned down in another Rohingya village, Chein Khar Li.
“This new satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of devastation in northern Rakhine State may be far worse than originally thought,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for HRW.
“Yet this is only one of 17 sites that we’ve located where burnings have taken place. Independent monitors are needed on the ground to urgently uncover what’s going on.”
The Burmese government has denied access to the affected areas to journalists and observers.
On Saturday, Mr Johnson, appealed to Aung San Suu Kyi, the former dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize and is now the country’s State Counsellor, to intervene.
“Aung Sang Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age but the treatment of the Rohingya is alas besmirching the reputation of Burma. She faces huge challenges in modernising her country,” he said.
“I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities in Rakhine.
“It is vital that she receives the support of the Burmese military, and that her attempts at peacemaking are not frustrated. She and all in Burma will have our full support in this.”
* Bangladesh struggles to cope with influx of Rohingya refugees
* More than 100 dead in ‘massacre’ of Rohingya Muslims
* Bodies of 20 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma wash up in Bangladesh
* Rohingya Muslim militants armed with machetes ‘ambush Burma police’
* Burma rejects allegations of human rights abuses against Rohingya
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