Rights groups urge probe into new Myanmar abuses against Rohingya Muslims

October 29, 2016 2:00 pm

In this photo taken on October 15, 2016, armed border guard patrol the border area along the river dividing and Bangladesh located in Maungdaw, Rakhine State following attacks that killed nine border police. (Photo by AFP)

Rights groups have called for an independent investigation into reports that Myanmar forces are killing, raping and torturing villagers in the restive Rakhine region, home to Rohingya Muslims.
Accounts of severe abuse by Myanmar troops – including sexual violence, summary executions and the torching of villages – have been widely reported on social media following a recent military raid in the state.
The reports are difficult to confirm since the East Asian country’s military does not allow rights organizations and journalists to visit the remote region bordering Bangladesh.
Amnesty International and Watch (HRW) joined calls for an impartial investigation into such allegations, which the United Nations has described as “alarming and unacceptable.”
“If Myanmar’s security forces are not involved in any human rights violations as the authorities claim, then they should have no trouble granting independent observers access,” Amnesty’s Rafendi Djamin said on Friday. 

In this photograph taken on October 21, 2016, children look at a policeman in Laung Don in Rakhine State as a security operation continues following an alleged raid on government soldiers. (Photo by AFP)

Northern Rakhine has been under a military lockdown since an alleged attack on the country’s border guards three weeks ago left nine police officers dead.
The government has accused Rohingyas of waging the armed assault and an army search for the perpetrators has led to the killing of over 30 people and arrest of dozens more, according to official reports.
The government has claimed that the October 9 border raid was carried out by hundreds of Rohingya fighters linked to what it referred to as “Taliban-trained” militants.
On Friday, dozens of Rohingya women told the Reuters agency that government forces had committed acts of rape or sexual assault against them.
Government spokesman Zaw Htay dismissed a “mass rape” in a Rohingya village, saying “there was information that some attackers were kept in that village.”
“So security was taken very seriously and (the search team) was very careful about being safe and would not think to rape up to five women,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Rights groups say Myanmar troops have gone on a rampage, which has forced terrified civilians to flee their homes.
The Rakhine region, where Rohingya Muslims form the majority population, has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012.
Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands more have been forced to flee their homes and live in squalid camps in dire condition within Myanmar and other countries – including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to the UN, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities cross the globe. The government denies full citizenship to Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even as many trace their lineage in Myanmar back generations.
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