October 28, 2016
Tokyo, Japan -- Myanmar’s State Counselor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is visiting Japan at the grand invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the 1st of November. She will have several official and unofficial meetings with the Japanese government officials and business leaders. She will pay a homage visit to the Japanese Emperor and Empress as well during her visit. Ahead of her visit to Japan, Rohingya activists, together with Rohingya supporters in Japan had a meeting with high ranking Japanese Foreign Ministry officials at the Diet Building No. 1 on the 26th of October to raise the Rohingya issue by the Japanese Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in their official bilateral meeting next week.
The urgent meeting was organized by former Cabinet Minister and Social Democratic Party leader Mrs Mizuho Fukushima who has been supporting Rohingya cause since 1999.
At the emergency meeting, Prof. Muranushi Michimi and Tanabe Hisao discussed about the Rohingyas’ long standing problem. Rohingya activists Zaw Min Htut and Abul Kalam discussed about the current Myanmar military and police force atrocities on Rohingya in Maungdaw since the 9th of October incident. The Rohingya presented several documents of extra-judicial killing, rape, torching houses, mosques, looting, mass arrest, mass graves and showed the video clips as well.
The former Minister stressed the Japanese Prime Minister or Foreign Minister must raise the issue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at their bilateral meeting as the Rohingya situation has become worse than before under her NLD government. The foreign ministry officials’ Principal Director Mr Kensuke Nagase, Deputy Director Mr Yoko Takushima and South East Asia division Deputy Director Ms Tomohiro Kanata expressed their sympathies on the lost of innocent Rohingya lives and properties and promised to raise the issue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Before ending the meeting the Rohingya activists appeal to Japanese government to urge Daw Aung San Suu Kyi immediately to stop ongoing atrocities where hundreds of Rohingya lives and properties have been lost by presenting an appeal letter.
The appeal letter to the Japanese government is here.
The Honorable Fumio Kishida
The Foreign Minister
Ministry Of Foreign Affairs
The Government Of Japan.
Date:- 26th October 2016
I would like Your Excellency to raise the grave situation of the Rohingya people in the Northern Arakan State with State Counselor and Foreign Minister Of Myanmar Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during her State visit to Japan next week.
Some unidentified assailants launched early morning attacks on three security forces posts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships on 9th October, according to information released by the Myanmar Government. We, Rohingya people strongly condemn violence at all cost and oppose any violence on anyone whilst pursuing a peaceful solution for the plight of Rohingya. Rohingya community is not capable of targeting the security forces, given the extremely restrictive environment they live in Rakhine State.
Since 9th October, under the pretext of looking for attackers, the Myanmar military and police forces have been indiscriminately killing the Rohingya, torching and plundering their homes and villages. Two mass graves were found and over 100 innocent Rohingya were extra- judicially killed that included old men, women and children .One of my second Cousins was shot dead by military on 12th October. At least 15 Rohingya villages were set ablaze destroying many houses including my family house and Mosques. The Myanmar military forces together with the local Rakhines are looting Rohingya houses and shops. At the same time several local people are reporting that their women are sexually assaulted by the military forces. Several hundreds innocent Rohingya have been arrested and torturing to death.
The grave situation has caused many Rohingya to flee their villages. Several Thousands of Rohingya have been internally displaced causing great humanitarian disaster. Due to curfew order and blockade imposed only on Rohingya, there is an acute shortage of Food, Medicine and other essentials. The situation is exponentially worsening. The Government security forces deny access to aid agencies that provide essentials Health care and Food to people at grave risk and denying access to INGOs as well as free media.
The fear on the ground is that the violence may now escalate to at least the level of 2012, when hundreds were killed, several villages had been burnt down , over 1,40,000 were displaced to IDP Camps and many more Rohingya were driven out of the country altogether. This new upsurge of violence may ultimately prove to be the final trigger to outright genocide that the UN and many NGO observers as well as genocide scholars have been dreading.
The only thing that can stop the spiraling levels of violence from escalating into a full blown latter-day Rwanda scenario would be the intervention of Japanese Government together the government of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to pacify Rakhine and impose the rule of law effectively. But as of yet, the Myanmar Government is making no efforts to protect Rohingya civilians and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi does not seem to be moved by the gravity of the situation while military is taking the law in their hands.
You are in a uniquely privileged position to help build the international pressure needed to move Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to suppress the recent upsurge in violence before the situation get completely out of control. I solemnly urge you to take charge of this issue and help prevent yet another international humanitarian catastrophe.
I humbly appeal to your Excellency to save Rohingya from total annihilation. Rohingya are peace-loving people believing peaceful co-existence with equal rights and dignity. I earnestly request your Excellency to stress the followings directly with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in your bilateral meeting. Rohingya men, women and children are looking at you for their salvation
1. Immediately stop extra-judicial killing of innocent Rohingya in Maungdaw.
2. Stop burning down Rohingya villages, Mosques and religious houses.
3. Stop looting Rohingya houses of valuable jewelry, gold and money.
4. Stop raping Rohingya women.
5. Stop arbitrarily arrest of innocent Rohingya and torturing them in the custody.
6. Stop vandalizing religious houses, desecrating Holy Quran and terrorizing Rohingya villagers.
7. Give free access to INGOs, WFP, and other humanitarian agencies to provide Food, Medicine and other essentials to Rohingyas.
8. Call Myanmar Government for proper and thorough investigations of summary executions, torture in the custody and rape of the Rohingya women immediately.
Zaw Min Htut
Rohingya Human Rights Activist in Japan
|Border police officers on patrol in Maungdaw Township, where much of the violence in Myanmar has taken place this month. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images|
By Mike Ives
October 26, 2016
HONG KONG — In the aftermath of violence this month in western Myanmar that has left scores of people dead, the authorities are facing mounting pressure to lift a weekslong military lockdown that advocacy groups say has trapped Muslims in their communities and largely prevented aid workers from helping them.
People in the northern part of Rakhine State have watched the Myanmar Army and the border police loot shops, rape women, burn homes and Qurans, and shoot unarmed people in the days and weeks since an attack this month on a guard post near the Bangladeshi border killed nine police officers, rights activists say. The United Nations, in a statement on Monday, urged the government to address “growing reports of human rights violations” in the area.
The violence this month has largely affected members of the Rohingya ethnic group, a stateless Muslim minority with roughly one million members in Rakhine State. The Rohingya have been unable to obtain Myanmar citizenship, even though many of their families have lived in the country for generations.
Much of northern Rakhine remained inaccessible to international relief agencies because of the military operations and travel restrictions, activists and aid workers said this week. They added that thousands of Rohingya people had not been permitted to leave their villages — even as some members of the Rakhine group, a Buddhist ethnic minority in Myanmar that has occasionally clashed with both the Rohingya and the government in recent years, have fled south to Sittwe, the provincial capital.
International nonprofit groups have been unable to reach those displaced by the violence and to offer humanitarian programs like basic health services, Marta Kaszubska, the coordinator of the INGO Forum Myanmar, a consortium of international nonprofit organizations in the country, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
“The longer this situation continues, the more vulnerable people will get, as food supplies dwindle and life-threatening health problems are left untreated,” she added.
But U Tin Maung Swe, the spokesman for the Rakhine government, disputed accounts of human rights violations. Reports of soldiers and border police officers killing and terrorizing villagers were untrue, he said in a brief telephone interview on Thursday, and the area had never been under lockdown.
“If you want to go, I will arrange access,” he said.
Reports of human rights violations in northern Rakhine could not be independently verified. Mr. Tin Maung Swe declined to elaborate on why he believed they were untrue.
The European Commission reported last week that 10,000 internally displaced Rohingya people were confined in coastal Maungdaw Township, where much of the violence has taken place this month, and that 1,000 Rakhine people had been relocated from northern Rakhine State to a new refugee camp on a soccer field in Sittwe. It said that 2,000 other Rakhine people were sheltering in monasteries, temples and schools in Maungdaw and neighboring Buthidaung Township.
A spasm of violence between Rohingya and Rakhine people in the Sittwe area in 2012 that killed dozens displaced more than 100,000 people. The vast majority of those are Rohingya, but some are Rakhine. They now live separately in refugee camps along Sittwe’s rural fringes.
|People displaced by fighting were evacuated to a Buddhist monastery in Maungdaw this month. (Photo: Ye Aung Thu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)|
Naing Min, a Rohingya villager in northern Rakhine, said he had witnessed border police officers and Myanmar Army soldiers driving people out of War Pate, a village in Maungdaw Township, in recent days.
“Then they’re burning the houses,” Mr. Naing Min said by telephone on Thursday. “I’ve seen this from a half-mile away.”
Abdul Rasheed, a Rohingya activist in Yangon, Myanmar’s cultural and business capital, said his contacts in northern Rakhine had documented 119 rapes and the burning or demolition of 700 to 800 homes since the attack this month on the border post. More than 200 people there had also been killed by the authorities or disappeared, he added, and many others were wounded by gunfire but unable to find medical treatment. He said he based his assessment on telephone conversations with more than 20 people in the area.
Mr. Rasheed said he worried that the military’s response to the initial attack may only aggravate the grievances that many Rohingya have harbored against the Myanmar government for years, driving them to further violence.
“Many people may resist against this lawless action,” he said in a WhatsApp message on Thursday. “Could be harmful for our people.”
Videos have circulated online this month that appear to show groups of heavily armed Rohingya men calling for jihad against the authorities. Activists and government officials say the videos appear to be authentic. But Fortify Rights, an advocacy group in Southeast Asia, has said the videos are unusual and should not be taken as signs of widespread militancy among Muslims in the area.
Chris Lewa, a Rohingya rights advocate in Thailand, said that shootings and house burnings had appeared to taper off in northern Rakhine but that the authorities were now arresting community and religious leaders, many of whom had not yet been released.
“What exactly happens to them once they get arrested?” Ms. Lewa asked. “We’re of course concerned they would be tortured.”
Myanmar’s de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has called for investigations into the violence in northern Rakhine and cautioned against making accusations without evidence. Other officials have denied any wrongdoing.
“We haven’t done anything lawless,” U Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar’s president, U Htin Kyaw, said in response to the statement by the United Nations, according to the Irrawaddy, a website and magazine that covers Myanmar.
The United Nations World Food Program, which provides food assistance for tens of thousands in Rakhine, said that it had begun distributing cash assistance on Wednesday to 20,000 people from vulnerable households in Buthidaung Township and that several schools in Buthidaung and Maungdaw had reopened after being closed this month.
But an official at the agency, Arsen Sahakyan, said that the planned distribution of food supplements to 17,000 pregnant women, nursing mothers and malnourished children in areas only accessible by river was delayed and that the agency would resume giving food to 50,000 people in Maungdaw once the area became accessible. It was also “assessing the feasibility,” he added, of resuming a program that normally feeds 65,000 students.
Media Release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
For Immediate Release
Thursday 27th October 2016
International action needed as Rohingya face executions, rape, mass arrests and starvation
As the Rohingya of Burma face the worst human rights and humanitarian crisis in decades, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK calls on governments, ASEAN and the United Nations to act now to prevent further violations of international law and mass starvation as a result of humanitarian aid being blocked.
We appreciate that the NLD led government has limited control over the military and security forces, but it cannot be said that they are trying to do their best to end violations despite this. Instead they are acting in a way similar to previous military regimes. They are not only failing to act to try to curtail violations of international law by security forces and the military, through its state media it is actively attempting to deny abuses are taking place and publishing false news. They have rejected United Nations calls for action in exactly the same way as during the Than Shwe military era.
If the widespread abuses currently taking place against the Rohingya were happening under the military era, there would be international condemnation and talk of international investigations, sanctions and discussions at the United Nations Security Council. Instead we are seeing silence or muted responses, and no action.
There is no end in sight to the current abuses and it is clear that neither the military or the government in Burma are willing to admit to what is taking place and take action to prevent it.
It therefore falls upon the international community to step in and protect the vulnerable Rohingya population who are facing multiple violations of international law. International law was designed specifically for situations like this. The international community must now step up to its responsibilities.
"We are facing a major crisis but without a major crisis response from the international community," said Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK. "The numbers already killed, raped and arrested could just be the beginning if action is not taken. Every diplomatic, political and legal option must be pursued."
We call for the following initial action:
ASEAN must publicly and privately pressure the military and the government to stop all human rights violations and lift restrictions on humanitarian aid.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must lead UN efforts personally demanding an end to all human rights violations and lifting all humanitarian aid restrictions. He must be willing to travel to Burma to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the head of the military, Min Aung Hlaing.
The international community should impose targeted sanctions against all those involved in human rights violations and restrictions on aid including visa bans, asset freezes, and restrictions on doing business with these individuals.
The United Nations Security Council must hold urgent discussions and call for an end to abuses and lifting aid restrictions.
All training programmes with the military and with police and security forces under their control should be suspended.
A UN mandated international investigation such as a UN Commission of Inquiry should be established to investigate recent human rights violations and the situation in Rakhine State.
For more information, please contact: +44 (0) 7888714866
By Fiona MacGregor
October 27, 2016
Dozens of Muslim women have allegedly been raped by state security forces in northern Rakhine State during counter-insurgency operations there, according to rights groups citing “credible” sources. Tight military controls in the region, including shutting out international humanitarian organisations, means independent verification has not been possible.
Around 30 women are reported to have been raped by security forces in a single village on October 19, according to Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, a Rohingya rights organisation.
Ms Lewa said she had also received additional reports of five girls aged between 16 and 18 being raped in another village on October 25 and two women at another location on October 20.
On October 25, the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) released a statement saying it was “extremely concerned” over at least 10 alleged rape cases that had been documented by civilians in Maungdaw township since the military operation had begun there, including one woman who was three months pregnant and later suffered a miscarriage.
“The Burmese government is deliberately violating international law and committing crimes that it promised the world they would refrain from,” said U Kyaw Win of the BHRN, referring to the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
The reports of widespread sexual assaults come as security forces in the area hunt for those behind three deadly attacks on border police posts on October 9, believed to have been carried out by Rohingya insurgents.
Ms Lewa said, “[The security personnel] look down on women and Rohingya women in particular. These women are very vulnerable, especially when the men have fled the villages.”
A large swathe of northern Rakhine State has been under military lockdownsince the October 9 attacks, with local residents reporting extrajudicial killings, torture, large-scale evictions, and the burning and looting of property.
Many villages are reported by sources on the ground to be lying entirely empty, with an estimated 10,000 Rohingya people believed to have been displaced. In other villages men have fled fearing they will be accused of being insurgents and shot or arrested by authorities, leaving women vulnerable to assault, those sources on the ground have added.
International groups including the UN and INGOs have demanded that the government allow an independent investigation into the series of alleged human rights violations emerging from northern Rakhine State.
Authorities have denied that rights abuses are being perpetrated, and reports have remained impossible to independently verify as even humanitarian and aid organisations are being denied access to the area, where food and medical supplies are running low for tens of thousands of people.
Following calls from UN human rights experts for access to the area, President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay told The Irrawaddy on October 25, “We haven’t done anything lawless.”
Women’s rights organisations have published numerous reports detailing incidents of sexual assault and rape by the Tatmadaw, particularly in ethnic minority areas. Under the 2008 constitution members of the military have impunity for such crimes, something rights organisations have long demanded should be changed.
“The Tatmadaw have a long and well-documented history of sexually abusing women in areas where they operate, so it’s shocking but not at all surprising that these kinds of reports about multiple rapes are coming out of northern Rakhine State. The question is what is [State Counsellor Daw] Aung San Suu Kyi and the government of Burma prepared to do about it because this is a real test of their political commitment to respect rights,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.
Initial reports of the October 19 mass rape incident in U Shey Kya village began appearing on social media on October 21. The Rohingya Blogger website alleged it had received the names of at least 10 women, including two girls aged 15, who had been raped in that incident. However, Ms Lewa said two separate sets of research conducted by her organisation since then had found the number of alleged victims to been around 30. The names of about two-thirds of the victims have been recorded. The two sets of reports had been consistent with one another, she said, though she added that accounts had differed as to whether the alleged rapes were carried out solely by members of the military or whether members of the Border Police Force had also been involved.
Social media have also included reports of rapes in recent days.
The increasing reports of rape have added to further demands for immediate action.
“First, the government needs to order the Tatmadaw to let the humanitarian agencies and international observers into these areas where the military is running roughshod over the Rohingya. And the government needs to immediately launch an independent investigation of these abuses, leading to the criminal prosecution of any soldiers found to have engaged in such abuses and commanders who looked the other way as their troops committed these crimes,” said Mr Robertson.
“It will not pass the laugh test if the government lets the Tatmadaw respond by itself to these serious charges, because the military have regularly sought to cover up these kinds of crimes by their troops in the past.”
|(Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP)|
October 24, 2016
Thousands of civilians from the Muslim Rohingya minority group have been displaced during “security sweeps” carried out by the Burmese army and security forces to find the perpetrators of recent attacks on local police. Rohingya activists accuse the security forces of carrying out extensive abuses. Our Observer tells us how he fled his village under threat of death.
On October 9, 2016, dozens of armed men attacked three police outposts in Maungdaw township in Rakhine, a volatile state on the western side of Burma that borders Bangladesh. Nine police officers were killed and the attackers managed to seize a number of weapons. The Burmese President’s Office blamed a previously unknown Rohingya group called Aqa Lul Mujahidin. This new group is reported to have links to the Organization for Rohingya Security, an armed group which was active in the 1990’s but has faded from view in the past few years. Other officials, however, have said that the government is still uncertain about the identity of the armed men.
In the wake of the attacks, security forces locked down the historically volatile state and launched a sweep to find the perpetrators. The security forces have denied both journalists and humanitarian groups access to what they are calling an “operation zone”.
Rohingya activists, however, accuse the security forces of targeting their community and committing rampant abuses, including burning and looting of villages, rape and summary executions.
Though lack of access prevents an accurate account, an estimated 18,000 people are thought to have been displaced by the security operation, according to Human Rights Watch. An estimated 15,000 are Rohingya. Several amateur videos posted online showed their flight.
#Rohingya from middle hamlet of #KyiGanPyin forced to leave their houses by #AungSanSuuKyi's govt's order. pic.twitter.com/nszPk6dHHD— Ro Nay San Lwin (@nslwin) October 23, 2016
A long history of persecution in Buddhist-majority Burma has left this Muslim minority community vulnerable. Technically, the Rohingya remain stateless due to a 1982 law denying them Burmese citizenship. Hundreds were killed and thousands left homeless in Rakhine state during ethnic and religious violence between Rohingya and the Rakhine Buddhist majority in 2012. Others fled the country.
“All of the homes were looted, including mine”
Farukh, age 23, is a Rohingya Muslim from Kyee Kan Pyin village, in northern Maungdaw. On October 23, he says border guard officers uprooted his entire community.
Burmese authorities accuse us of attacking security forces, but we don’t know anything. On Oct. 23, the police major called two regional MVs [Editor’s note: Farukh is referring to elders and religious leaders in the Rohingya community]. He told them that all the Rohingya had to leave the east hamlet by 6pm; if not, we would be shot [Editor’s note: Other sources reported that the “middle hamlet” was targeted, not the “east”].
We left our homes and fled to other villages around Maungdaw [Editor’s note: the largest city in the township]. We had to go by foot. I was with my mother, my three sisters and my three teenage nephews.
Our entire community of more than 2,000 people was displaced. We later found out that more than 40 homes in our village were burned to the ground by the army, police and locals who are ethnically Rakhine. All of the homes were looted, including mine.
Now, my family and I are staying in a tent in a neighbouring village. Many of us are camping in [rice] fields and we are finding it very hard. We don’t have food and we are frightened of more threats. We need emergency help, but no one is helping us.
These #Rohingya from middle hamlet of #KyiGanPyin #Maungdaw. They were forced to leave from their houses by #AungSanSuuKyi's govt's order. pic.twitter.com/HAXFC72JZt— Ro Nay San Lwin (@nslwin) October 23, 2016
Human Rights Watch called on Burmese authorities to allow aid deliveries to reach Rohingyas like Farukh who have been displaced from the violence.
The World Food Programme said that up to 50,000 may be trapped without food aid in Maungdaw.
On Wednesday, the Myanmar Times quoted officials who said that displaced Muslim residents were already returning home. However, this contrasts starkly with the account of Farukh as well as various human rights groups and Rohingya activists.
Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for proper investigations to be carried out and for no one to be accused for the attacks on police until solid evidence is obtained. UN human rights experts have applauded this statement, but called for a probe into allegations of abuses against Rohingya civilians.
October 26, 2016
Maungdaw, Arakan – The Myanmar Army raided houses in Pan Myaung hamlet of Nga Sa Kyu village tract in Maungdaw Township on October 24th, 2016. Seven Rohingya women were gang-raped by them. Among them one women died as a result of the abuse.
Among the seven rape victims, a 19-year-old girl is from Ywa Ma hamlet of Nga Sa Kyu village tract was gang-raped by 10 Myanmar soldiers at her relative’s house in Pan Myaung hamlet while visiting there. After being gang-raped by the soldiers, she was left bleeding and unconscious. The villagers brought her to her parent’s house in Ywa Ma hamlet after soldiers left from the village.
Although her parents wanted to send her to Maungdaw hospital they failed as all roads are blocked by the military. She had no chance for any medication in the village. She died today, October 26th, 2016 at 9am without the chance for medical treatment.
Another, a married woman is in very critical condition now due to lack of medical treatment. She was also among seven rape victims from Pan Myaung hamlet of Nga Sa Kyu village.
On that day, October 24th, soldiers raided 15 houses and beat the women there. They then looted gold, cash, solar panel systems and other valuables from the houses. They also looted the goods from three shops.
The soldiers were seen entering the mosque and tearing out pages of the Quran. They continued, burning the Quran and urinating inside of the mosque.
As the dignity and safety of the victims are major concern, we left out their names.
Report contributed by MYARF.
October 25, 2016
Maungdaw, Arakan – Three Rohingya married women from Kyi Gan Pyin and Ngan Chaung village tracts were raped by the Myanmar Army and Border Guard Police today.
Maw Too Fara is a sub-hamlet at West hamlet in Kyi Gan Pyin village tract where 60 houses and some 400 Rohingyas reside. Today, October 25th, 2016 at 11:30am, three BGP police came to the village and raided the house of one 45 year old man and they tried to rape his 18 year old daughter. Fortunately, she could escape even she was caught by them originally. As their plans with the girl failed, they looted a solar panel and a battery. They then raided the house of Mr Bawdi Alom s/o Mamed Husson (38-year-old). They looted a solar panel and a battery from Mr Bawdi Alom’s house as well.
Then three BGP police raided the house of a 26-year-old man and his family. They pulled out the couple from inside. Then they pulled the family from another house and gathered all of them in one place. After gathering them, two BGP police kept the group at gunpoint while the remaining BGP pulled the wife of The 26 year old man into the house and raped her inhumanely. They then left the village.
Similarly, two military soldiers raided the house of a 27 year old and a 25 year old man at 2pm today in Muu Rar Fara hamlet of Ngan Chaung village tract. They held the two men at gunpoint and kicked them out from the house. Then the soldiers raped the wives of two men and left from the place.
An elder from the village said the authorities are informed how the military and BGP are committing crimes against humanity under pretext of a clearance operation. Yet, the government takes action. So it is no doubt whether the crimes are allowed by the government.
As the dignity and safety of the victims are major concern, we left out their names.
Report contributed by Rohingya Eye.
Dr. Habib Siddiqui
October 25, 2016
Myanmar’s government said that the October 9 raids were conducted by the Aqamul Mujahidin organization, which it described as being affiliated with an extremist group. On the other hand, a previously unknown group - Faith Movement - has released a press statement on October 15 in which it claimed itself as the sons of Arakan soil who were compelled by the dire situation that they faced to make their own destiny through uprising, self-determination in self-defense. “We stand as an independent body which is free from all elements of terror in any nature,” the press release stated “that seeks fundamental but legitimate rights and justice for all ARAKANESE including our innocent Rohingyas and OTHER civilians dying from the continuous military assaults.”
An outcome like this was only waiting to happen given that history has repeatedly shown that such prolonged encampment in IDP concentration camps create a sense of ultimate abandonment by the state, pushing even the most moderates to take violent means to redress their plight. The initial attacks, in which three border police outposts were overrun by hundreds of people, most only lightly armed, showed a degree of sophistication not seen before in violence involving the Rohingya, but did not suggest the group was especially well-funded or armed, diplomats said.
Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw) has since been deployed in the Rohingya populated northern part of Arakan (Rakhine) state. And what we are witnessing there is simply shocking. War crimes are perpetrated. Under the pretext of finding the Rohingya perpetrators, the Tatmadaw has been doing what it has always done – using its criminal scorched-earth tactics. As a result, since the Oct. 9 attacks, at least 133 unarmed Rohingyas (mostly children and women) have been killed, or have died in custody. Over a hundred Rohingyas have been detained, several villages and more than a thousand homes and several mosques have been burned by the security forces forcing an internal displacement of at least 15,000 people, who are even denied humanitarian aid. Many of the local elders and Imams have also been killed extra-judicially after they were asked to report the local military camp.
Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a monitoring group, said the army was using "typical counter-insurgency measures against civilians", including "shooting civilians on sight, burning homes, looting property and arbitrary arrests".
Foreign reporters have not been allowed into the area the military has declared an "operation zone", but Reuters was able to contact some residents and community leaders by telephone. The people, who did not want to be identified, contradicted several of the reports in state media, saying that the death toll in the area was higher than reported and that a number of those killed were unarmed. In one of the disputed accounts, the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper said 30 Muslims attacked government forces on Oct. 11 near Kyetyoepyin village, and that 10 Rohingyas were killed in the subsequent fighting. After the clash, the insurgents fled, setting fire to homes, the report said. But several Rohingya residents from the area said they believed at least 19 people, including eight women, were killed by security forces that day. They also say it was the soldiers who set a large part of the village on fire.
The United Nations has said the violence is preventing aid agencies from delivering food and medicines to the region.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned in a statement Friday that as troops poured into the region and authorities blocked off the delivery of humanitarian aid to Maungdaw, aid agencies have not been able to conduct a needs assessment. The statement quoted a World Food Program (WFP) partnerships officer as saying they had requested access “from township level to Union level”. WFP told HRW that 50,000 people remain without food aid in Maungdaw.
Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, said the recent violence “has led the army to deny access to aid agencies that provide essential health care and food to people at grave risk”. “The Rohingya and others have been especially vulnerable since the ethnic cleansing campaign in 2012, and many rely on humanitarian aid to survive,” he added.
Rohingya advocacy groups have expressed concerns over what they claim is a continued crackdown in the area, with global groups releasing a statement Sunday claiming security forces have been indiscriminately killing Rohingya and torching and plundering their homes and villages, under the pretext of looking for the attackers.
This latest ethnic cleansing drives against the Rohingya are simply sickening in a country that is led by someone like Suu Kyi who was honored with a Nobel Prize for peace. What a joke this award is becoming! Apparently, she has failed to learn lessons from history, esp. why her wise father Aung San had organized the Panglong Conference in the pre-independence days.
Suu Kyi should have known better than most Burmese that such military excesses only weaken the very foundation of an artificial geographic entity like Burma (and today’s Myanmar) that comprises peoples of many nationalities, races, ethnicities and religions. Since the time of Pagan King Anawrahta (11th century, CE), her country has been kept together by strong arms tactics of feudal kings, the British Raj and the military governments that ruled. ‘Divide and rule’ and fear-mongering against a perceived foe became prudent methods to administer this diverse country. But such tactics failed to create nationhood. There was never a sense of belonging except for the dominant group.
This much-needed task for forging national unity was taken up by visionaries like Aung San (who represented the Interim Burmese government), Sao Shwe Thaik (Shan leader) and others (including U Razak of AFPFL, a Muslim) in the late 1940s. That was the background for the Panglong Conference, which was held in Southern Shan state on February 1947. However, the spirit of Panglong Agreement that was reached between Aung San and other ethnic and community leaders in an attempt to unite everyone - irrespective of race, ethnicity and religion, Buddhists and non-Buddhists - for a common goal of independence was dead following Aung San's assassination (along with U Razak who was Education and National Planning Minister in Aung San's cabinet, and six other cabinet ministers) on July 19, 1947, less than six months before Union of Burma was to emerge as an independent state in the global arena. It should be noted that the Agreement, amongst other provisions, accepted full autonomy in internal administration for the “Frontier Areas" (bordering British India, Thailand, Laos, China) in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly.
The founding fathers of Burma were very serious to foster unity in their future state. Thus, in 1946 General Aung San assured full rights and privileges to Rohingya/Arakanese Muslims as an indigenous people, saying: “I give (offer) you a blank cheque. We will live together and die together. Demand what you want. I will do my best to fulfill them. If native people are divided, it will be difficult to achieve independence for Burma.”
The First President, Sao Shwe Thaik, who was the last Saopha of Yawnghwe, famously said, “If the Rohingyas are not indigenous, nor am I.”
After Myanmar gained independence on January 4, 1948, communists and ethnic/national/religious minorities in the country began a series of insurgencies displaying their grave discontent towards the newly formed post-independence government as they believed that the Panglong Agreement was not honored and that they were being unfairly excluded from governing the country. Their overwhelming perception was that the new government was a state for, by and of the majority Bamar and Buddhists only, and not for other minorities.
Sao Shwe Thaik who had led and organized the Panglong conference became the first president of the Union of Burma. His public speech on 4 January 1949 at a mass rally held outside City Hall to mark the first anniversary of Independence Day captures the troubled mood of the state: “Cooperation and understanding cannot come about so long as the element of violence or threat of violence exists, for violence has no counterpart in freedom, and liberty ends where violence begins.”
There were also widespread practice of discrimination against anyone who was not a Buddhist. For example, it was noted that many Christian Karen and Muslim and Sikh military officials, who were originally appointed by the British, were replaced with Buddhist Bamars by the new parliament. The situation was much worse for Muslims everywhere - from Arakan to Rangoon. As a result of serious discrimination, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lost their jobs in every government sector – civilian, police and military. Many lost their businesses, too, and were looked down upon as either British-era migrants or their children thereof. Loss for them was craved as a net gain for the majority Buddhist. Steadily, intolerance of the minority became the law of the land.
The occupation of Burma by Japan during the early years of the World War II, when Rakhine Buddhists had allied themselves with the occupying fascist Japanese forces while the Arakanese Muslims collaborated with the British Raj to defeat Japan, had already poisoned the relationship between these two dominant groups in Arakan. After Burma earned its independence, many Rakhine Buddhists took advantage of the emerging situation to ethnically cleanse Muslims from many parts of Arakan, esp. the southern part of the state. This led to the ghettoization of Muslims in towns and villages bordering today’s Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan).
It is not difficult to understand why almost every racial/religious entity, including the Mujahedeen (made up of Arakanese/Rohingya Muslims), outside the majority Bamar/Buddhist race/religion rebelled in the early years. Being betrayed by the British Raj, in spite of their valuable services rendered during and after the WWII, it was no brainer that some Arakanese Muslims had felt that they had to protect themselves against marauding Buddhist incursions into their northern Mayu Frontier Territories. Muslim rebellion against the central government ultimately stopped when promises for their wider acceptance were made by government officials. Even then the persecution of the Rohingya and other Muslims continued.
According to the Pakistan Times (August 26, 1959), some 10,000 refugees had by then taken shelter in East Pakistan. In 1959, Burma agreed with East Pakistan governor Zakir Hossain to take back Rohingya refugees who had taken shelter in Chittagong in 1958. When questioned ‘why refugees were pouring into Pakistan from Burma, the governor replied that the government of Burma had nothing to do with it. Actually the Moghs [ie, Buddhist Rakhines] of Arakan were creating the trouble.’ (Pakistan Times, August 27, 1959) Governor Zakir Hossain’s reply once again underscored the deep hostility of the racist Rakhines against the minority Rohingyas. On October 27, 1960, the Daily Guardian, Rangoon, reported that Burmese ‘Supreme Court quashes expulsion orders against Arakanese Muslims,’ which once again shows that the Arakanese [Rohingya] Muslims faced much problems in their reintegration.
Armed resistance by various ethnic and religious minorities and communists became the new norms and not the exceptions, which continued for more than a decade until the military was able to crush such through its savage scorched-earth tactics. Even then armed struggle is a reality in many parts of Myanmar to this very day.
The two largest insurgent factions in Myanmar were the communists, led by the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), and ethnic Karen insurgents, led by the Karen National Union (KNU). The KNU favored an independent state, forged out of Karen State (Kayin State) and Karenni State (Kayah State), in Outer Myanmar (Lower Burma), administered solely by the Karen people.
Even the Rakhine Buddhist separatists were not behind in such insurgency movements, nor were the Chins. Rakhine insurgent groups, such as the Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) continue to have hostilities towards the government, though major violence has been rare since political reforms and peace talks. The AA, founded in 2009, is currently the largest insurgent group in Rakhine State, with an estimated 1,500–2,500 fighters active in the region. Its goal is an independent Rakhine state.
In the early 1960s, the Burmese government refused to adopt a federal system, to the dismay of insurgent groups such as the CPB, who proposed adopting the system during peace talks. By the early 1980s, politically motivated armed insurgencies (like the communist) had largely disappeared, while ethnic-based insurgencies continued.
The Panglong Agreement of 1947 offered the Shan the option to split from Myanmar a decade after independence if they were unsatisfied with the central government. This was, however, not honored following Aung San's assassination. Instead, what they got are – severe mistreatment, torture, robbery, rape, unlawful arrest, and massacre. As a result, an armed resistance movement, led by Sao Noi and Saw Yanna, was launched in May of 1958 in the Shan State. One of the largest Shan insurgent groups in Myanmar is the Shan State Army - South (SSA-S), which has some 6,000 to 8,000 soldiers, with its bases along the Myanmar-Thailand border.
In October 2012, the ongoing conflicts in Myanmar included the Kachin conflict, between the Christian Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the government; a series of genocidal pogroms directed against the Rohingya Muslims that were participated by Rakhine Buddhists, and aided by the government and non-government groups in Rakhine State, including the Buddhist clergy; and a conflict between the Shan, Lahu, and Karen minority groups, and the government in the eastern half of the country. Armed conflict between ethnic Chinese rebels and the Myanmar Armed Forces have resulted in the Kokang offensive in February 2015. The conflict had forced 40,000 to 50,000 civilians to flee their homes and seek shelter on the Chinese side of the border.
In 2012 alone, fighting between the KIA and the government resulted in around 2,500 casualties (both civilian and military); 211 of whom were government soldiers. The violence resulted in the displacement of nearly 100,000 civilians, and the complete or partial abandonment of 364 villages.
Several insurgent groups have negotiated ceasefires and peace agreements with successive governments, which until political reforms that begun in 2011 and ended in 2015, had largely fallen apart. That reality marshaled in the Second Panglong-type conference held in Naypyidaw this August to end the decades-long insurgencies in many of the ethnic areas.
As can be seen from the brief review above, civil/genocidal wars have been a constant feature of Myanmar's socio-political landscape since her independence as Union of Burma in 1948. These wars are predominantly struggles for ethnic and sub-national autonomy, with the areas surrounding the ethnically Bamar central districts of the country serving as the primary geographical setting of conflict.
The Rohingya and other Muslims inside Myanmar had been in the receiving end of annihilation. They have faced dozens of extermination campaigns since 1942. Denied each of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, truly, the Rohingyas of Myanmar remain the most persecuted people in our planet. And yet, until this latest episode of attacks by some disgruntled Rohingya youths for daily dehumanization that their family members face, they have been the most unarmed, passive and peaceful of all the communities that make up the fractured mosaic of Myanmar. This, in spite of the fact, more than 1 in 2 Rohingyas now live a life of a refugee outside Myanmar.
In the last few years alone, they have seen only death and destruction of their folks; desperation has set in, and many have fled the country, while some 150,000 remain internally displaced with no shelters except concentration camps within the Arakan state. Their ID cards were confiscated and they were denied the right to vote; their political parties banned; and not a single Muslim candidate was allowed to contest in the election. Suu Kyi has come to power and refuses to identify them as ‘Rohingya’. She even did not invite them into the peace/unity conference in Naypyidaw. In spite of mounting international pressure, the Rohingya continue to be denied the basic rights and means of livelihood; their women continue to be raped by Tatmadaw as weapons of war to bring collective shame upon them and force them out of their ancestral homeland. [As I write, many Rohingya women (ten of which alone are from Anauk Kwin hamlet of U Shin Gya village tract) continue to be gang raped by the Tatmadaw in its latest ethnic cleansing drives.]
The new pogrom inside the Rohingya populated territories of northern Arakan state once again underlines the power the army retains in Myanmar, which is guilty of committing war crimes against an unarmed civilian population. Such brutality against the Rohingya Muslims also unmasks the Buddhist government’s double-standards when dealing with non-Buddhists. Army generals continue to run the home ministry, which inflicts the worst form of collective punishment against the Muslims (but not against the Buddhist rebels). This is quite evident when the Rakhine Buddhist extremists of the Arakan Army attacked the military, which it has done 15 times since 28 December, 2015, in which several soldiers got killed, interestingly no such scorched-earth and combing operation to flush them out was undertaken by the military.
Suu Kyi can start the process of reintegration of the Rohingya, by following the footsteps of her wise father. She can immediately withdraw the military from Rohingya towns and villages where they are committing war crimes. She can restore the citizenship rights of the Rohingya on the basis of the First Schedule to the Burma Independence Act 1947. That Act clearly stated that the Rohingya and all other Muslims who were British subjects - who were born in Burma or whose father or paternal grandfather was born in Burma - were considered citizens of the Union of Burma. Under Annex A of the Aung San-Attlee Agreement, 27 January, 1947, Rohingyas were citizens of the Union of Burma: “A Burma National is defined for the purposes of eligibility to vote and to stand as a candidate of the forthcoming elections as a British subject or the subject of an Indian State who was born in Burma and resided there for a total period of not less than eight years in the ten years immediately preceding either 1st January, 1942 or 1st January, 1947.”
The Nu-Attlee Agreement (1947), signed between Prime Minister U Nu (Burma) and Prime Minister Clement Attlee (Great Britain) on Oct. 17, 1947 on transferring power to Burma was very important as to the determination of the citizenship status of the peoples and races in Burma. Article 3 of the Agreement states: “Any person who at the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty is, by virtue of the Constitution of the Union of Burma, a citizen thereof and who is, or by virtue of a subsequent election is deemed to be, also a British subject, may make a declaration of alienage in the manner prescribed by the law of the Union, and thereupon shall cease to be a citizen of the Union.”
Human rights group, including the Faith Movement, have called for: restoration of human rights including citizenship rights for their Rohingya people; immediate relocation of the Rohingyas from the IDP camps back to their places of origin (before the genocidal campaigns ensued in 2012), return of their confiscated assets, repeal of the 1982 Citizenship Law so that they can be treated as equals in Myanmar, compensation to IDP detainees towards rebuilding their burnt/destroyed homes and places of worship, a cessation of military offensives against all ethnic groups of Myanmar, and prevention of all kinds of religious persecution including hate speeches by Buddhist extremists. They have also demanded international investigation and intervention to stop Rohingya Genocide, and have sought their protection.
So, if Suu Kyi’s government is serious about bringing peace in Arakan, it should seriously fulfil such legitimate demands for the greater good of all. After all, in all fairness, none of these demands is irrational and within the capacity of the Myanmar government to implement. If she continues to overlook such demands and follows the dictates of her savage Tatmadaw that has been committing war crimes in its conflicts against the ethnic minorities, I am afraid, it won’t be too long that Myanmar would divide into many states, and that many of the top generals and ministers could be charged with committing crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court. The international community may also find it necessary to demand that the Mayu Frontier Territories (in northern Arakan) be declared a ‘safe’ territory for the persecuted Rohingyas of Myanmar so that they could live there with honor, dignity, safety and security.
Let Suu Kyi do the math and figure out what is better for her fractured and artificial country. The sooner the better!
|Police forces prepare to patrol in Maungdaw township at Rakhine state, northeast Myanmar, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer|
By Simon Lewis
October 25, 2016
YANGON -- U.N. human rights experts have called on Myanmar to investigate allegations that security forces have killed unarmed civilians, burned villages and made arbitrary arrests in a Muslim-majority region where a crackdown has followed attacks on border police.
Aid agencies say up to 15,000 people, believed to be mostly Rohingya Muslims, have been displaced since armed men launched coordinated attacks on three posts along the northwestern border with Bangladesh on Oct. 9.
The government, which is led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has characterised the response of security forces as a carefully targeted sweep of northern Rakhine State's Maungdaw Township in search of the perpetrators.
Officials say security forces have killed 30 "attackers" and detained 53 suspects while searching for 400 suspected Rohingya militants, who seized dozens of weapons from border police.
Rights group and sources from the mostly stateless Rohingya group have told Reuters that civilians are bearing the brunt of the military-led operation. They say the death toll from the violence is higher than reported.
The U.N. envoy on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, said she had received "repeated allegations of arbitrary arrests as well as extrajudicial killings occurring within the context of the security operations conducted by the authorities in search of the alleged attackers."
“What troubles me most is the lack of access for a proper assessment of the true picture of the situation there at the present moment," Lee said in a statement from Geneva on Monday.
"The blanket security operations have restricted access for humanitarian actors with concerning consequences for communities' ability to secure food and conduct livelihood activities," Lee added.
The United Nation's special envoys on summary executions, internally displaced persons, and torture also joined Lee's call for "proper and thorough investigations of alleged violations."
Rohingya community leaders and local residents told Reuters on Monday that hundreds of people had been hiding out in rice paddies near their village since soldiers allegedly ordered about 2,000 people to leave their homes on Sunday.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), aid agencies still have no access to the 10,000 to 15,000 people thought to have been displaced from their villages by the latest violence in Rakhine State.
An additional 3,000 people from the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist community have fled to monasteries, schools and camps, the agency said in an update Monday.
Food aid is not reaching 50,000 "food-insecure people" and 65,000 school children in Maungdaw Township who normally receive World Food Programme assistance, said UNOCHA.
UN experts urge Myanmar to address serious violations of human rights in northern Rakhine State
GENEVA (24 October 2016) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of Myanmar to address the growing reports of human rights violations in northern Rakhine State following the attacks on 9 October 2016 by armed individuals against three Border Guard Police posts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships, and subsequent security operations in search of suspected attackers.
“In the aftermath of the attacks, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has rightly called for proper investigations to be conducted and for no one to be accused until solid evidence is obtained,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee. “Instead, we receive repeated allegations of arbitrary arrests as well as extrajudicial killings occurring within the context of the security operations conducted by the authorities in search of the alleged attackers.”
“What troubles me most is the lack of access for a proper assessment of the true picture of the situation there at the present moment. The blanket security operations have restricted access for humanitarian actors with concerning consequences for communities’ ability to secure food and conduct livelihood activities,” the expert emphasised.
Regarding allegations of summary executions of civilians, including of children, during the searches and raids conducted as part of the police and military forces’ security operations, the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, reminded the Government of its obligations.
“While the State has the legitimate authority and power to carry out operations to pursue the alleged perpetrators of the 9 October attacks, such crimes should be investigated and prosecuted in a court of law and not dealt with violence,” Ms. Callamard said.
“Reports of homes and mosques being burnt down and persons of a certain profile being rounded up and shot are alarming and unacceptable,” she stated. “The authorities cannot justify simply shooting suspects down on the basis of the seriousness of the crime alone. The authorities have the duty to take concrete measures to prevent extrajudicial killings in the country, not to perpetuate them.”
Ms. Callamard further recalled “the duty to conduct thorough and impartial investigations of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, including those reportedly carried out by state agents.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, also expressed serious concerns about the displacement of large populations from affected areas as a result of the security operations. “The authorities must allow access for humanitarian actors to be able to undertake a needs assessment and continue delivering assistance and aid, as well as ensure that the protection, needs and wellbeing of affected populations are urgently and properly addressed,” Mr. Beyani said.
“All internally displaced persons have the right to an adequate standard of living, including access to food and potable water, basic shelter and housing, and essential medical services and sanitation, without discrimination,” the expert stressed.
The UN experts concluded by urging the Government to undertake proper and thorough investigations of alleged violations as well as implement concerted efforts to fight and prevent acts of incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence against minorities, while still upholding internationally recognised human rights standards.
The experts’ call has also been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez.
The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
Credible Reports of Burmese Soldiers Gang Raping Rohingya Women In Maungdaw
25 October 2016
London, United Kingdom
The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) is extremely concerned as reports are emerging of Burmese soldiers raping Rohingya women in Maungdaw as part of a crackdown on the city in response to an attack on the border police earlier in the month. At least ten cases of rape against Rohingya women have been documented by civilians in Maungdaw since the army entered the city. These reports, while difficult to independently verify, contain strong evidence and beg for further investigation. The BHRN was able to interview one woman who claims to have been beaten and gang raped by two Burmese soldiers while she was 3 months pregnant on the 11th of October. The rape and assault resulted in miscarriage, which was reported by a doctor who examined her inside Bangladesh, where she managed to flee when BHRN interviewed her.
“The Burmese government was the 150th country to sign the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, but has failed to even attempt to fulfil this agreement. This issue is not new to Myanmar, and yet it has never been adequately addressed. The Burmese government is deliberately violating international law and committing crimes that it promised the world they would refrain from,” explained Kyaw Win of BHRN.
The woman, whose identity is being withheld, stated that she was in her village in Maungdaw on the 11th of October when 30-40 soldiers entered. The name of her village is also being withheld to avoid making her identifiable. Her husband, along with the other men in the village had fled at this time, reportedly fearing mass arrests and torture of soldier-aged males by the Burmese police and military. She said that two of the soldiers entered her house and became aggressive towards her. She asked them to leave and they beat her with sticks and also punched and kicked her. As the soldiers made clear they intended to rape her she begged them to stop and informed them that she was three months pregnant. She said the soldiers then raped her brutally and left. A few days later a rumor spread that the army would be returning to the village and she fled along with a small group of Rohingya civilians to Bangladesh. She has since been taken in by locals in an undisclosed location and a doctor has examined her, corroborating that she had been raped, beaten, and that these events resulted in miscarriage.
In light of this evidence it appears the Burmese army is in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1820, regarding the protection of women and girls in conflict zones. Reports indicate that the Burmese army is giving impunity to soldiers who are committing sexual assault and raping women. The use of rape in war is considered a Crime Against Humanity and in clear violation of Rome Statute Article 7(1), The Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Article 3, and The Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), Article 5. As these reports emerge it is imperative that the international community take them seriously and seek to investigate them as such.
As the crackdown and military presence in Maungdaw continues the BHRN is concerned that reports like this will continue to surface unless the matter is properly addressed by the Burmese Government and Military from the top down.
The BHRN calls upon the Myanmar Government to investigate all claims of sexual assault, torture, and rape by Burmese soldiers and hold all responsible parties accountable. The BHRN also calls on the Burmese Government and military to allow all aid into Maungdaw, as well as access to journalists and NGOs, so that unnecessary suffering can be ended and all future events can be monitored transparently. The use of sexual abuse and rape as a weapon in times of war and conflict has been an unfortunately common occurrence in Myanmar, and without being properly addressed it will only continue – horrifically damaging the lives of innocent women and men who are victims of rape and sexual assault and drawing concerns about the credibility of human rights reform within Myanmar.
Notes for Editors
Background on current situation:
On October 9th three Border Guard Police posts near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border were overrun by a group of militants believed to be ethnic Rohingya, a marginalized Muslim ethnic group in western Myanmar. Nine police officers were killed in the attack. In response the Military moved to Maungdaw, the city where the first attacks took place. The subsequent crackdown on the city has been especially harsh, with accusations that non-militants have been extra-judicially assassinated. At the same time, large sweeping arrests have occurred with some Rohingya men dying in custody under suspicious circumstances. The Burmese army has often been accused of using rape as a weapon in conflict elsewhere in the country where they are engaged in combat with ethnic rebel groups.
Background on the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) works for human rights, minority rights and religious freedom in Burma. BHRN has played a crucial role advocating for human rights and religious freedom with politicians and world leaders.
Members of The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) are available for comment and interview. Images also available on request.
Executive Director of the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
T: +44(0) 740 345 2378
|Screenshot from the video sent by the villager of Pan Myaing hamlet|
October 24, 2016
Maungdaw, Arakan – The Myanmar Army raided three villages in Maungdaw Township and sexually assaulted Rohingya women, looted from houses and shops and tore pages of the Quran out as well as burning the Quran and urinating inside a mosque.
On October 23th, 2016, the Myanmar military based at the primary school in Zedi Pyin hamlet of Laung Don village tract raided houses in Zedi Pyin and Sin Thay Pyin hamlets. The Rohingya men fled from the hamlet to escape torture by the military. Since there were no men in the hamlet, about 20 women from Lower Zedi Pyin hamlet gathered at the home of the hamlet-in-charge head Zawfor Alom in order to help each other.
On October 24th, 2016, at around 7am the military based at the primary school in Zedi Pyin hamlet separated into 3 groups and one left for Sin Thay Pyin hamlet in Laung Don village tract, one left for Pan Myaing hamlet in Nga Sar Kyu village tract and one left for the nearby mountains and raided many places.
Lower Zedi Pyin Hamlet
Today, October 24th, 2016 at around 7am soldiers reached a house in Lower Zedi Pyin where 20 women were staying temporarily. The women refused to open the door as they afraid when the soldiers knocked, but the soldiers broke the door and assaulted the women.
When the women tried to escape the soldiers opened fire. Another 30 soldiers joined them after hearing the gunshots. The soldiers then forced the women to gather in one place outside of the house and selected 7 women to take away but the women bravely escaped. After the women escaped the military raided the house beside the house of Zawfor Alom and hit 65-year-old Amir Hussein in the head with a gun. The man is seriously injured and suffering still now. After the soldiers left the women counted took a head count and found two women were missing but later they found them at a nearby house in hiding.
Sin Thay Pyin Hamlet
At 7am a group of 30 soldiers raided East Sin Thay Pyin sub-hamlet and forced the women out from over 300 houses and gathered them in the middle of the hamlet. The soldiers and NaTaLa villagers then started looting from the houses from East Sin Thay Pyin sub-hamlet and also looted seven shops and took away all things to NaTaLa village until 6pm. The value of goods from the seven shops may be more than Seven Million Kyat, according to locals. The soldiers and villagers also looted all chickens, ducks, pigeons and goats from the houses.
After they completed looting the soldiers ordered the women back home, where they found their houses emptied.
Soldiers raided 15 houses in Pan Myaung hamlet of Nga Sa Kyu village tract and beat the women there. They then looted gold, cash, solar panel systems and other valuables from the houses. They also looted the goods from three shops.
The soldiers were seen entering the mosque and tearing out pages of the Quran, as well as burning the quran and urinating inside of the mosque.
Report contributed by MYARF.
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