Myanmar instilling fear, trauma in Rohingya

Hundreds of Rohingya wait after crossing Bangladesh's border as they flee from Budichong, Myanmar after crossing the Naf river.
Hundreds of Rohingya wait after crossing Bangladesh's border as they flee from Budichong, Myanmar after crossing the Naf river. ABIR ABDULLAH

BRUTAL, co-ordinated and systematic attacks have been carried out against the minority Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar to drive them away and prevent their return, according to a United Nations human rights report.

The report is based on interviews done in Cox's Bazar, a fishing port in Bangladesh, where about 500,000 Rohingya have sought refuge.

It draws attention to a strategy to "instil deep and widespread fear and trauma - physical, emotional and psychological" among the Rohingya.

"The (UN human rights) team documented consistent accounts of the Myanmar security forces surrounding or entering villages or settlements, sometimes accompanied by Rakhine Buddhist individuals, firing indiscriminately at Rohingya villagers, injuring some and killing other innocent victims, setting houses on fire, and announcing in other villages that the same would befall them if they did not comply with the order to immediately abandon their homes," notes the report, issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It cites witnesses saying security forces committed summary executions, rapes and other forms of sexual violence, plus torture.

Forces attacked places of worship.

Specific attacks targeted the educated in Rohingya society such as teachers, business people, religious and community leaders - "people with influence" - in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge, the report said.

"Credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of the Rohingyas, targeting their houses, fields, foodstocks, crops, livestock and even trees, to render the possibility of the Rohingya returning to normal lives and livelihoods in the future in northern Rakhine almost impossible," it added.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who described the government operations in northern Rakhine state as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," also urged the Myanmar Government to immediately end its "cruel" security operation.

By denying the Rohingya population their political, civil, economic and cultural rights, including the right to citizenship, he said, the Government's actions appear to be "a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return".

More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the Myanmar security forces launched an operation in response to alleged attacks by militants on August 25 against 30 police posts and a regimental headquarters.

The report, however, suggests that the "clearance operations" started before that date - as early as the beginning of August.

Topics:  ethnic cleansing human rights report murder muslim rohingya myanmar rape torture united nations

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