Evidence of genocide
There is "mounting evidence" of genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, says a new report by US-based Holocaust Memorial Museum, after an investigation by Fortify Rights. The report calls for an immediate halt to the atrocities in Rakhine.
“Without urgent action, there's a high risk of more mass atrocities,” said Cameron Hudson, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the Museum in a statement yesterday.
Echoing the findings of Fortify Rights when giving evidence before a parliamentary committee, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Burma Campaign UK and other rights groups urged the government and the international community to see the Nobel laureate as “part of the problem”, The Guardian reports. It added that the military crackdown had “thousands” of Rohingyas dead, forced an exodus of 600,000 people and mentioned numerous instances of “appalling rape”.
The Rohingyas have suffered attacks and systematic violations for decades, and the international community must not fail them now when their very existence in Myanmar is threatened, Cameron said.
More than six lakh of Myanmar's one million Rohinygas have fled the country to Bangladesh since August 25. International Rescue Committee says two lakh more will arrive in the coming weeks. Some four lakh Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh in the previous years.
Fortify Rights' report titled “They Tried to Kill Us All: Atrocity Crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar” is based on a year-long investigation that included more than 200 interviews documented in Myanmar and Bangladesh from October 9 to December 2016 and from August 25, 2017 to the present day.
Myanmar's military has consistently claimed its innocence and in an internal probe made public on November 13, it said it found no instances where its soldiers had shot and killed Rohingya villagers, raped women or tortured prisoners.
It denied that security forces had torched Rohingya villages or used “excessive force”. Amnesty International termed the findings a "whitewash".
The research says Myanmar state security forces and civilian perpetrators committed mass killings in dozens of villages in Maungdaw Township in 2016 and in villages throughout all three townships of northern Rakhine since August 25, 2017.
"They slit throats; burned victims alive, including infants and children; beat civilians to death; raped and gang raped women and children," says the report.
State security forces opened fire on men, women and children at close range and from a distance from land and helicopters, killing untold numbers, it added.
Survivors from some villages described how perpetrators slashed women's breasts, hacked bodies to pieces and beheaded victims, including children, the report says.
Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights said these crimes thrive on impunity and inaction. “Condemnations aren't enough. Without urgent international action towards accountability, more mass killings are likely.”
The Myanmar Army-led assault on Rohingya civilians comes in response to attacks by the Rohingya militant group, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on three police outposts on October 9, 2016 that left nine dead, and another attack on 30 police outposts and one army base on August 25, 2017, that left at least 12 dead.
Members of ARSA are also responsible for human rights violations, the report added.
Myanmar continues to deny the delivery of essential humanitarian aid, including food and nutrition, to affected areas of northern Rakhine State.
“These crimes won't end on their own,” said Matthew Smith.
The report suggested enacting targeted sanctions on the individuals responsible for crimes in Rakhine, instituting an arms embargo on Myanmar and referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.
SUU KYI “PART OF THE PROBLEM”
HRW, which has been documenting sexual violence against Rohingya by the Burmese military, attacked the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development (DfID) for failing to send specialist teams to speak to victims who had fled to Bangladesh, it said.
The International Rescue Committee estimated there were 75,000 victims of gender-based violence, and that 45% of the Rohingya women attending safe spaces in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh had reported such attacks.
“Yes, I'm afraid she is complicit,” said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, on Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. He said the Nobel peace prize winner had “authoritarian tendencies”, and used repressive laws to restrict freedom of expression, pointing out that she had refused to free political prisoners, one aged 14.
“The biggest tragedy here is she is the one person in the country who really could change attitudes towards the Rohingya. She's chosen not to do that,” he added. “We've seen a change in tone but we haven't seen a change in policy.”
“I'm saying that we need to look again at the support we have given to her government,” he reportedly said.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said two civilian experts had flown to Bangladesh on Tuesday, to conduct a needs assessment of the extent of sexual violence and service provision among the Rohingya. The deployment followed a visit by the head of team for the FCO's preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative to Cox's Bazar and Dhaka this month, alongside the UN secretary general's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten.
Japan urges Myanmar for repatriation
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday to make it possible for refugees to return to their homes in Rakhine state, reports Japan Times.
Abe also appealed to Suu Kyi in their meeting in Manila to restore order in the province and to allow access for humanitarian aid. He also assured Japan is ready to give as much support as possible to Myanmar to improve the situation in Rakhine.