Crisis deepens
12:00 AM, August 27, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:00 AM, August 27, 2017

Crisis deepens

Myanmar fires on fleeing Rohingyas; refugees keep thronging border; US calls for protecting human rights as Rakhine violence toll now 92

Amid continued bloodshed in Rakhine State of Myanmar and influx of Rohingyas towards Bangladesh, Myanmar troops fired twice on fleeing people near the Bandarban border yesterday.

The first shooting took place at the no man's land of the Naf River near Toombro border under Naikhyangchhari upazila around 1:15pm, said Lt Col Manjurul Ahsan Khan, director of BGB Battalion 34.

The official said the Rohingyas had been staying on boats at the no man's land since Friday night as they were trying to cross the river to enter Bangladesh.

They could not get into the country's territory as BGB members enforced a zero tolerance policy on trespassing, he said, adding that it could not be confirmed if there was any casualty.

The second shooting occurred near Ghumdhum border of the upazila around 4:30pm, the official told The Daily Star.  

An AFP reporter saw in Ghumdum civilians running for their lives as the troops opened fire. It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries.

The news agency quoted a senior BGB official saying that the troops fired on civilians, mostly women and children, hiding in the hills near the zero line. "They fired machine guns and mortar shells suddenly, targeting the civilians. They have not consulted the BGB."

As violence left at least 92 dead since early Friday and clashes continued between suspected Rohingya militants and Myanmar security forces, terrified civilians tried to flee remote villages in northern Rakhine for Bangladesh yesterday afternoon.

In the evening, over “two thousand Rohingyas” entered Bangladesh through different points of Naikhyangchhari, according to a local public representative.

Mukter Miah, a Rohingya from Myanmar, gets treated in Chittagong Medical College Hospital yesterday. He is accompanied by his relative who came to Bangladesh 15-20 years ago. Photo: Prabir Das

“Around 2,000 to 2,500 Rohingyas got into Bangladesh from Myanmar this evening [yesterday],” Md Zahangir Alam, chairman of Ghumdum Union Parishad, told our Cox's Bazar correspondent.

BGB members have cordoned them off and are keeping close watch so that they cannot proceed further into the country. Locals extended a helping hand to the refugees with food, water and other life-saving materials, he said. 

Meanwhile, one of the three Rohingyas, who suffered bullet injuries while fleeing alleged police action in their village in Rakhine State, died at Chittagong Medical College Hospital yesterday. The two other Rohingyas were undergoing treatment at the CMCH.

Rakhine State has become a crucible of religious hatred focused on the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority, who are reviled and perceived as illegal immigrants in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Residents of outlying villages fled to the main town of Maungdaw yesterday, only to be greeted with more violence there. Three village officials were killed overnight near Maungdaw, according to the office of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Meanwhile, the United States urged Myanmar authorities to avoid a response that would inflame the tensions.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in Washington that as security forces act to prevent further violence and bring the perpetrators to justice, they should respect the rule of law and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

She said the attacks underscored the importance of the government implementing recommendations of a commission chaired by former UN chief Kofi Annan, which published its final report on Thursday recommending that the government act quickly to improve economic development and social justice in Rakhine state to resolve violence between Buddhists and the Rohingya.

At least 89 people were killed as militants besieged border posts in Rakhine on Friday. The office of de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said 12 security officials had been killed alongside 77 militants -- the highest declared single-day toll since fighting broke out last year.

More than a thousand Rohingyas, including women and children, reportedly crossed the Naf River on Friday morning and got into Bangladesh through several points along the Teknaf and Ukhia borders. BGB said it sent back 146 Rohingyas hours after they entered the country.

Attacks on police posts last October sparked a wave of deadly “clearance operations” by Myanmar's army and forced some 87,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Rights groups fear a similar crackdown may take place following Friday's attacks.

NO ROHINGYA TO BE ALLOWED

Md Ali Hossain, deputy commissioner of Cox's Bazar, yesterday said the local administration has been directed to try its best to restrict the entry of fresh Rohingyas as not a single person will be allowed further in the name of “humanity”, reports UNB.

He, however, said the government is keeping humanitarian aspect of the situation in mind with due sincerity. "That doesn't mean we'll have to bear the burden for year after year by allowing the entry of people from another country."

The comments were made at an emergency meeting held at the Circuit House on Friday night attended by government officials, representatives of law enforcement agencies, politicians and others.

The meeting has decided to take stern action against those who will help Rohingyas enter Bangladesh.

Bangladesh shares with Myanmar a 272km border that falls in Bandarban and Cox's Bazar. Of this, a 52km stretch is in the Naf River.

The country has been hosting up to 5,00,000 Rohingyas for three decades. More than 32,000 of them are registered and live in two camps in Cox's Bazar. Others live in different areas of Cox's Bazar and Chittagong.

After Myanmar armed forces launched a counterinsurgency operation following attacks on security personnel in Rakhine State in October last year, more than 75,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh.

THE DEATH AT CMCH

The Rohingya who died was identified as Mohammad Musa, 23, son of Mohammad Ismail, from Mehendi village under Jeddina Police Station of Maungdaw, said police.

Of the injured, Mohammad Mukter Miah, 27, hailing from the same village, was undergoing treatment at the surgery ward of the CMCH, said Jahirul Islam, in-charge of CMCH Police Camp.

Another injured, 10-year-old Md Idris, was admitted to Neurosurgery ward.

Police said Musa and Mukter were injured in police firing as they went to “attack police camps” in Myanmar, but the injured claimed that they were “innocent” and that sustained bullet injuries while trying to flee police attack in their village.

"Some people brought Musa and Mukter to the CMCH around 3:00am [yesterday],” said Jahirul, adding that Musa suffered bullet injuries in the abdomen, Mukter in left shoulder and Idris in the head.

Idris was brought by a woman around 5:00am, he said.

Mahadi Hasan Manju, a medical officer of surgery ward, said Musa died around 9:45am.

 

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