‘Ethnic Cleansing’ in Myanmar Continues to Devastate Rohingya Communities

The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar continues, with new reports alleging that several Rohingya men were recently massacred in a Rakhine state.

A harrowing Reuters report details the killings of eight men and two high school-aged students in the village of Inn Din last year:

Bound together, the 10 Rohingya Muslim captives watched their Buddhist neighbors dig a shallow grave. Soon afterwards, on the morning of Sept. 2, all 10 lay dead. At least two were hacked to death by Buddhist villagers. The rest were shot by Myanmar troops, two of the gravediggers said.

Those ten bodies were then reportedly disposed of in a mass grave.

The news agency goes on to detail how two of the reporters involved in piecing together this story from eye witness accounts, as well as photographic evidence, were then arrested by Myanmar police and charged under an extraordinary use of the Official Secrets Act – a relic of British colonial times.

Myanmar’s authorities claim that the journalists illegally obtained information about the state, which they intended to provide foreign media. The two reporters have yet to face trial and have been denied bail. Despite the circumstances, Reuters explained that the journalists agreed it was important to publish the story and to not to give in to this perceived intimidation.

The Military’s Account Doesn’t Add Up

Myanmar’s military has reportedly claimed that the 10 men were part of a 200-strong terrorist group who attacked security forces. But the information obtained by Reuters appears to contradict that account.

Buddhist villagers who were asked about the incident, but who were not directly involved, didn’t report any threatening behavior by the Rohingya Muslims, casting additional doubt on the military’s official version of events.

One local police officer who was involved in the incident reportedly stated, “If they [the Rohingya] have a place to live, if they have food to eat, they can carry out more attacks. That’s why we burned their houses, mainly for security reasons.”

Independent human rights groups have uncovered evidence of rapes, mass arrests, the burning of Rohingya villages, violence and murder. Reports from Rohingya citizens themselves who have managed to escape Myanmar’s borders into neighboring Bangladesh have corroborated these accounts, and many have also described starvation, looting and violence.

Amnesty International has gone so far as to call these events “ethnic cleansing,” with Senior Crisis Advisor Matthew Wells at Amnesty International explaining:

Shielded by official denials and lies, and a concerted effort to deny access to independent investigators, Myanmar’s military continues to get away with crimes against humanity. Myanmar’s security forces are building on entrenched patterns of abuse to silently squeeze out of the country as many of the remaining Rohingya as possible. Without more effective international action, this ethnic cleansing campaign will continue its disastrous march.

Will Myanmar’s Government Finally Help the Rohingya?

Myanmar’s leader, Ang San Suu Kyi, has been heavily criticized for her failure to even discuss the Rohingya crisis. Oxford City Council in the UK has gone so far as to strip her of the “Freedom of Oxford“ honor she was granted in 1997 in recognition of her struggle for democracy. They’ve also issued a unanimous motion calling on Suu Kyi to act swiftly, but she has yet to answer those calls.

However, Myanmar’s government has maintained that action will be taken over the reported killings in Inn Din. According to the Independent:

A Myanmar government spokesman, Zaw Htay, said that “action according to the law” would be taken against seven soldiers, three members of the police force and six villagers as part of an army investigation. 

The arrests were “not because of Reuters news. The investigation was being conducted even before Reuters news,” he said, adding that he was unable to specify what action would be taken against the 16 people.

The UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson met with Ang San Suu Kyi over the weekend and tweeted:

Johnson also spoke of his “shock” at visiting Rakhine state:

Johnson has expressed “doubts” that Ang San Suu Kyi fully understands the situation, saying: “I have seen nothing like it in my lifetime. Hundreds of villages torched. It is absolutely devastating and I think that what is needed now is some leadership, working with the UN agencies to get these people back home.”

In late January, the United Nations  again called on Myanmar to allow unrestricted access to Rakhine State. The UN claimed that this was vital to any efforts to return the more than 700,000 people who have fled Rakhine following this wave of violence.

So far, Myanmar has not lifted restrictions on humanitarian work in the region. Recent reports say that officials are now demanding the Rohingya leave “no man’s land,” even as it was revealed that some Rohingya are selling aid supplies just to be able to eat.

Take Action!

Join over 100,000 Care2 members in signing this petition to demand that the UN do everything in its power to help the Rohingya people!

Photo Credit: DFID/Flickr

63 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson22 days ago

Thank you.

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Past Member
Past Member 23 days ago

awful

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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DAVID f
DAVID f2 months ago

noted

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Past Member
Past Member 2 months ago

beyond awful

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