Tragedy as 400,000 flee at­tacks

■ 400,000 have fled ‘eth­nic cleans­ing’ in Myan­mar

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Ser­a­jul Quadir

A Ro­hingya Mus­lim woman holds an in­fant who died when the boat they were trav­el­ling in cap­sized just be­fore reach­ing the shore of the Bay of Ben­gal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh. Some 400,000 Ro­hingya have fled to Bangladesh in the past weeks since Myan­mar’s se­cu­rity forces launched an op­er­a­tion that crit­ics have branded ‘eth­nic cleans­ing’. The United Na­tions has ap­pealed for aid amid a grow­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

The United Na­tions has ap­pealed for mas­sive help for 400,000 Mus­lims from Myan­mar who have fled to Bangladesh. The fear is that the num­ber will keep ris­ing, un­less Myan­mar ends what crit­ics de­nounce as “eth­nic-cleans­ing”.

The Ro­hingya are flee­ing from a Myan­mar mil­i­tary of­fen­sive in the western state of Rakhine. It was trig­gered by a se­ries of guer­rilla at­tacks on Au­gust 25, on se­cu­rity posts and an army camp, when a dozen peo­ple were killed.

The United Na­tions has called for a mas­sive in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of re­lief op­er­a­tions to help the refugees, and a much big­ger re­sponse from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“We urge the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to step up hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port and come up with help,” Mo­hammed Ab­diker, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions and emer­gen­cies for the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion, told a news con­fer­ence in the Bangladeshi cap­i­tal. The need was “mas­sive”, he added.

The vi­o­lence in Rakhine and the ex­o­dus of refugees are the most press­ing prob­lems No­bel Peace lau­re­ate, Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced since be­com­ing na­tional leader, last year.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral, An­to­nio Guter­res, and the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, urged Myan­mar to end the vi­o­lence, which he said was eth­nic cleans­ing.

The gov­ern­ment of Bud­dhist-ma­jor­ity Myan­mar re­jects such ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing it is tar­get­ting “ter­ror­ists”.

Nu­mer­ous Ro­hingya vil­lages in the north of Rakhine have been torched, but author­i­ties have de­nied that se­cu­rity forces or Bud­dhist civil­ians set the fires. They blame the in­sur­gents, and say 30,000 non-Mus­lim vil­lagers were also dis­placed.

Smoke was ris­ing from at least five places on the Myan­mar side of the border, yes­ter­day. It was not clear what was burn­ing or who set the fires.

“Eth­nic-cleans­ing” is not recog­nised as an in­de­pen­dent crime un­der in­ter­na­tional law, the UN Of­fice on Geno­cide Preven­tion says, but it has been used in UN res­o­lu­tions and ac­knowl­edged in judg­ments and in­dict­ments of the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal for the for­mer Yu­goslavia.

A UN panel of ex­perts de­fined it as “ren­der­ing an area eth­ni­cally ho­mo­ge­neous, by us­ing force or in­tim­i­da­tion to re­move per­sons of given groups”.

The cri­sis has raised ques­tions about Suu Kyi’s com­mit­ment to hu­man rights, and could strain re­la­tions with Western back­ers of her lead­er­ship of Myan­mar’s tran­si­tion from decades of strict mil­i­tary rule and eco­nomic iso­la­tion.

Crit­ics have called for her to be stripped of her No­bel prize, for fail­ing to do more to halt the strife, though na­tional se­cu­rity re­mains firmly in the hands of the mil­i­tary. Suu Kyi is to ad­dress the na­tion on Tues­day.

China, which com­petes with the United States for in­flu­ence in Myan­mar, en­dorses the of­fen­sive against the in­sur­gents and deemed it an “in­ter­nal af­fair”, Myan­mar state me­dia said.

“The coun­ter­at­tacks of Myan­mar se­cu­rity forces against ex­trem­ist ter­ror­ists, and the gov­ern­ment’s un­der­tak­ings to pro­vide as­sis­tance to the peo­ple, are strongly wel­comed,” the Global New Light of Myan­mar news­pa­per quoted China’s am­bas­sador, Hong Liang.

Pic­ture: Zakir Hos­sain Chowd­hury/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Pic­ture: Mas­fiqur So­han/NurPhoto via Getty Im­ages

Ro­hingya Mus­lim refugees dis­em­bark from a boat on the Bangladeshi side of Naf river in Tek­naf, Bangladesh, af­ter flee­ing Myan­mar.

Pic­ture: AP Photo/Dar Yasin

Ro­hingya Mus­lims walk to the shore af­ter ar­riv­ing on a boat from Myan­mar to Bangladesh in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, yes­ter­day.

Pic­ture: AP Photo/Dar Yasin

A Ro­hingya Mus­lim man walks to shore car­ry­ing two chil­dren af­ter they ar­rived on a boat from Myan­mar to Bangladesh in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, yes­ter­day.

Pic­ture: Zakir Hos­sain Chowd­hury/Anadolu Agency/Getty Im­ages

A woman lies un­con­scious on the shore of Bay of Ban­gal af­ter the boat she was trav­el­ling in cap­sized at Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh.

Pic­ture: Zakir Hos­sain Chowd­hury/Getty

A Ro­hingya refugee car­ries a child from the boat.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.