Myanmar’s Persecution of Ethnic Royingha Intensifies
By admin September 12, 2017

An estimated 300,000 of the Royingha population in Myanmar have fled the state to seek sanctuary in nearby Bangladesh over the course of the past month. These refugees, mostly ethnic Muslim minorities, cite accounts of rape, violence, and death.

However, these recent developments are not new. The incidents, which the UN has stated as possible cases of crimes against humanity, started in October 2016 when the Myanmar military initiated a systematic crackdown of the ethnic Royingha in response to a coordinated attack by insurgents that left nine police officers dead. The military sweeps occur mostly in the northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, prompting the Royingha Muslims, including women, children, and the elderly to seek shelter in neighboring Bangladesh.

The Myanmar military has denied these accounts of rape and murder of civilians, claiming they are only targeting Royingha militants who attacked the police posts. Firsthand accounts from the refugees who made it across the Naf River differ. They recount personal stories about their villages being ransacked, the women raped, children tossed into water, the men shot, and in some cases, villages burned. However, there are limitations to independently verifying these accounts. The government has severely restricted access to the Rakhine state, blocking access to journalists as well as UN aid agencies. Human Rights Watch has cited satellite evidence of widespread burning in at least ten areas of the Rakhine State days after the crackdown began.

Aung San Suu Ki, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient who currently is the de facto leader, has drawn criticism from the international community. Once championed as a leader in human rights, she has come under immense pressure by the UN and other humanitarian organizations to speak out against the treatment of the Royingha and to exert influence over the Myanmar military. She has remained silent on the matters, but on Wednesday her Facebook page included a post blaming “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” regarding the violence, with no mention of the Royingha refugees.

In response to the reinvigorated military sweep, the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres appealed to the Myanmar government on Wednesday to end the violence. Guterres also stated he has written to the security council to express his concern. The UN estimates up to 15,000 refugees are expected to cross the Naf River and settle into makeshift camps in Bangladesh each day this week. Another 20,000 have been stranded between the two countries, with Bangladesh border guards denying entry. These refugees will continue to cross through unguarded areas. As the humanitarian crisis unfolds, global leaders and organizations such as the UN will closely monitor the situation.

Further Reading:

UN Secretary Urges Violence to End

Truth and Lies about Aung San Suu Ki

Firsthand Accounts of Royingha Persecution

An Exclusive on the Royingha Refugees

Aung San Suu Ki Defends her Handle of the Violence:

Where the Royingha Refugees Flee To

Thanks for sharing !

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