Minority Rohingya population beaten, raped and killed by security forces and Rakhine Buddhists, claims rights group
Communal violence is continuing in western Burma six weeks after the government declared a state of emergency, with much of it directed at minority Muslim Rohingyas who have been beaten, raped and killed, Amnesty International has claimed.
The rights group accused both security forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists of carrying out fresh attacks against Rohingyas, who are regarded as foreigners by the ethnic majority and denied citizenship by the government because it considers them illegal settlers from neighbouring Bangladesh.
After a series of isolated killings starting in late May, bloody skirmishes spread quickly across much of Burma's coastal Rakhine state.
The government declared a state of emergency on 10 June, deploying troops to quell the unrest and protect both mosques and monasteries. Authorities said at least 78 people had been killed and thousands of homes of both Buddhists and Muslims either burned down or destroyed.
Since then, communal violence has continued, albeit at reduced intensity. Amnesty said attacks were now being directed mostly at the Rohingya population.
Violence in the past six weeks has been "primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingyas specifically the targets and victims", Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based researcher for Amnesty, told the Associated Press. "Some of this is by the security forces' own hands, some by Rakhine Buddhists, with the security forces turning a blind eye in some cases."
Officials from Burma's government could not immediately be reached for comment.
Amnesty also said security forces, including the police and the army, had detained hundreds of Rohingyas.
"While the restoration of order, security, and the protection of human rights is necessary, most arrests appear to have been arbitrary and discriminatory, violating the rights to liberty and to freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion," Amnesty said in a statement.
The violence, which reached its bloodiest point in June, constituted some of the country's deadliest sectarian bloodshed in years and raised international concerns about the fate of the Rohingyas inside Burma.
The Burmese president, Thein Sein, said earlier this month the solution to ethnic enmity in Rakhine state was to either send the Rohingyas to a third country or have the United Nations refugee agency look after them. The UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, said, however, it was not his agency's job to resettle the Rohingyas.
Many people in Burma do not recognise Rohingyas as legitimate settlers – even those of Bengali heritage who came in the 19th century when the country was under British rule. The exodus of Rohingyas to Bangladesh in the 1980s and 1990s because of persecution, and their subsequent return, has added to the confusion over who among them are illegal immigrants.
Bangladesh also denies the Rohingyas citizenship, arguing that they have been living in Burma for centuries and should be recognised as citizens there instead.
The UN estimates that 800,000 Rohingyas live in Burma. Thousands attempt to flee every year to Bangladesh, Malaysia and elsewhere, trying to escape a life of abuse that rights groups say includes forced labour, violence against women and restrictions on movement, marriage and reproduction that breed anger and resentment.
Amnesty called on Burma to accept Rohingyas as citizens, something the government has staunchly opposed because it does not consider them an ethnic group native to Burma.
"Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless," Zawacki said. "For too long Myanmar's [Burma's] human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them."
Intl. silence on killing of Myanmar Muslim eye-opening: Iran MP
An Iranian lawmaker says the silence of international organizations on the ongoing massacre of Muslims in Myanmar reveals the true face of these institutions.
“The international community’s expectations of so-called rights organizations have not been met due to the silence of these organizations on the brutal killing of [the Rohingya] people of Myanmar,” Abbasali Mansouri said Saturday.
The lawmaker, who is a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said the silence of these organizations on the Muslim killings in Myanmar has revealed their true nature for the people of the world.
“We see that neither the United Nations, nor the Human Rights Council or other international organizations, are …reacting to this horrendous mass killing in order to stop it…this is while the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly condemned such crimes in the past 33 years,” he noted.
According to recent reports, Muslims in Myanmar are suffering a human tragedy. Since June, hundreds of the nearly-one-million-strong Rohingya Muslim minority have been killed and tens of thousands of others have been displaced in the west of the country due to a wave of communal violence.
The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives and classifies as illegal migrants, although the Rohingya are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.
Myanmar’s President Thein Sein said on Thursday, July 19, that the "only solution" to the plight of Rohingya Muslims is to send the country’s nearly a million Muslims -- which is one of the world's most persecuted minorities -- to refugee camps run by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
However, the UN refugee agency has snubbed the idea of setting up refugee camps to accommodate the Rohingyas.
"We will send them away if any third country would accept them," Sein added. "This is what we are thinking is the solution to the issue."
Over the past two years, waves of ethnic Muslims have attempted to flee by boat in the face of systematic oppression by the Myanmar government.