THE EXODUS: More than half a million people have fled, UN figures show –
Geneva: Myanmar’s “systematic” crackdown on the Rohingya is aimed at permanently expelling the minority Muslim community from their home in Rakhine state, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The UN report, which is based on interviews with refugees who have fled to Bangladesh, details a campaign by Myanmar’s military to terrorise the Rohingya through atrocities that range from indiscriminate killings to rape.
“Brutal attacks against Rohingya in northern Rakhine State have been well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving the population out of Myanmar but preventing them from returning to their homes,” the UN said.
UN researchers spoke to people who arrived in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area since August 25, when militant attacks on Myanmar’s security forces in Rakhine sparked a major military backlash.
More than half a million people have fled, UN figures show.
But the probe found that the latest wave of military “clearance operations” in Rakhine actually began before that date, possibly in early August, contradicting government claims that the crackdown was a response to militant strikes.
The investigation outlines an army-led campaign to erase the Rohingya’s connection to their homeland in the majority Buddhist nation, where they have suffered persecution for decades.
Myanmar’s troops also often operate “in concert with armed Rakhine Buddhist individuals,” the UN said.
“In some cases, before and during the attacks, megaphones were used to announce: ‘You do not belong here — go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you’,” it said. — AFP