Wednesday, March 1, 2017

European Rohingya Council says government complicit in attacks on police that sparked atrocities


A violent security crackdown among Myanmar’s Rohingya community in response to attacks on police was orchestrated by the government

The  chairman of the European Rohingya Council (ERC), said the killings of police in Rakhine State, where most Rohingya live, on Oct. 9 was organized by military intelligence as justification for repressive measures against Rohingya.

The Myanmar military intelligence department indirectly supported a group of desperate Rohingya youths to create a gang and manipulated them to attack security forces in order to legalize their illegal attack on the community.

Nine police officers were killed in attacks on posts in Maungdaw, a district in northern Rakhine near the Bangladesh border. The killings sparked a violent wave of reprisals against the civilian population.

During these operations, the UN and rights groups have produced evidence of widespread abuses by security forces such as killings -- including of children and babies -- gang rape, brutal beatings, the burning of villages and disappearances.

The council said more than 400 people were killed in the crackdown, which officially ended on Feb. 15, and around 400 women were raped, including children aged 12. Approximately 1,500 houses were burnt down, Hla Kyaw said.

During the operations, at least 93,000 people were displaced, with the majority fleeing to Bangladesh, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

As well as provoking the attacks against police, Hla Kyaw accused the government of setting the Muslim and Buddhist communities against each other in Rakhine.

Discriminatory laws

This strategy is coming from the state of Myanmar, from the military institutions,” he said. “Buddhist monks living in the region are spreading Muslim hatred and the state is supporting and using them.

The Nasaka border security force that then President Thein Sein ordered disbanded in 2013 was still operating in Rakhine.

The unit was accused of committing serious human rights abuses against Rohingya at the time, as well as enforcing discriminatory laws such as travel and marriage restrictions.

The ERC called for intervention by the international community to stop the “state-run genocide”.

The Rohingya are not recognized by the government as one of Myanmar’s 135 ethnic groups, which instead claims they are Bengalis originally from Bangladesh.

Rohingya, who number around 1.3 million in Rakhine, had been persecuted because they were “not same as Burmese in skin color and in religion”.

Aside from the recent crackdown, they have endured decades of repression under Myanmar’s military junta -- forcing many to flee to Bangladesh.

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, at least 32,000 registered and up to 500,000 unregistered Rohingya were living in Bangladesh in 2015, mostly in Cox’s Bazar.

'Slow-burning genocide'

Research carried out by the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University in London found the government was operating a “slow-burning genocide” in Rakhine.

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