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Report documents ‘Rohingya persecution’

A Rohingya family at the “unregistered” IDP site known
as Ohn Taw Gyi,or the “coconut garden,” prepares locally gathered plants
to eat. They are facing food shortages because the government does not permit
humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to thousands of displaced who is not
registered in official IDP sites. © 2012 Steven Sanford
Al Jazeera:
April 22, 2013
Rights group says Myanmar’s minority Muslim group has been
subjected to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity
have been committed against Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya people, according to a
new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based nongovernmental
organisation.
According to the report released on Monday, entitled
All You Can Do is Pray, more than 125,000 ethnic Rohingya have been forcibly
displaced since two waves of violence in May and October 2012.
Satellite images show almost 5,000 structures
on land mostly owned by Muslim Rohingya have been destroyed, says the report.
The October attacks, the report states, were
coordinated by Myanmar government officials, an ethnic Rakhine nationalist
party and Buddhist monks. The deadliest attack took place on October 23, in
which witnesses say at least 70 Rohingya – including 28 children – were
massacred in Mrauk-U township.
The UN has described the Rohingya as one of
the most persecuted minorities in the world.
Most Rohingya who live in Myanmar’s western
Rakhine state are denied citizenship by the Myanmar government, which claims
they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and often refers to
them as “Bengali”.
The Myanmar government has done nothing to
prevent the violence, alleges the report, and at times government forces have
joined in the attacks on the Rohingya.
“The Burmese government engaged in a
campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through
the denial of aid and restrictions on movement,” Phil Robertson, HRW’s
deputy Asia director, said.
“The government needs to put an
immediate stop to the abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable or it will
be responsible for further violence against ethnic and religious minorities in
the country.”
In response to a letter from Human Rights
Watch, the Myanmar government asserted that “the armed force, police force
and militias handled the conflicts between the two communities in accordance
with the existing laws, rules and regulations taking care of providing security
in order to restore law and order and tranquillity”.
Allegations that the police used excessive
force to handle the outbreak of violence in June “were unfounded and not
true information”, the government said, adding that authorities faced
“unfounded bias” from media both within and outside the country.
The government also said it has established
an independent commission to study “the conflict” in Rakhine.
Conflicts between Muslim Rohingya and
Buddhist Rakhine have long roiled Rakhine. During World War II, clashes between
the Rakhine, who supported Japanese forces, and the Rohingya, who supported the
British, led to many deaths.