Myan­mar pur­sues ‘eth­nic cleans­ing’ of Ro­hingyas: UN

Thou­sands in Asia stage protests

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Myan­mar is en­gaged in “eth­nic cleans­ing” of Ro­hingya Mus­lims, a UN of­fi­cial has said, as re­ports emerged yes­ter­day of troops shoot­ing at vil­lagers as they tried to flee. Thou­sands of des­per­ate peo­ple have pushed over the border into Bangladesh in the last few days, bring­ing with them hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries of gang rape, tor­ture and the sys­tem­atic killing of their eth­nic group.

John McKis­sick, head of the United Na­tions refugee agency in the Bangladeshi border town of Cox’s Bazar, said troops in Myan­mar were “killing men, shoot­ing them, slaugh­ter­ing chil­dren, rap­ing women, burn­ing and loot­ing houses, forc­ing these peo­ple to cross the river” into Bangladesh. The UN says up to 30,000 Ro­hingya, a state­less eth­nic group, have aban­doned their homes in Myan­mar, des­per­ate to es­cape the sol­diers that have poured into the strip of land where they live near the Bangladesh border.

Dhaka says thou­sands are massed on the border, but has re­fused ur­gent in­ter­na­tional appeals to let them in, in­stead call­ing on Myan­mar to do more to stop peo­ple flee­ing. “It’s very dif­fi­cult for the Bangladeshi gov­ern­ment to say the border is open be­cause this would fur­ther en­cour­age the gov­ern­ment of Myan­mar to con­tinue the atroc­i­ties and push them out un­til they have achieved their ul­ti­mate goal of eth­nic cleans­ing of the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity in Myan­mar,” McKis­sick said. Vi­vian Tan, a press of­fi­cer for the UN agency, said McKis­sick was “re­count­ing what dif­fer­ent sources, in­clud­ing new arrivals, have told him about the con­di­tions they fled” and added the re­ports were “very wor­ry­ing”.

Farmer Deen Mo­ham­mad was among the thou­sands who evaded stiff­ened border pa­trols, sneak­ing into the Bangladeshi border town of Tek­naf four days ago with his wife, two of their chil­dren and three other fam­i­lies. “They (Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary) took my two boys, aged nine and 12 when they en­tered my vil­lage. I don’t know what hap­pened to them,” Mo­ham­mad, 50, told AFP. “They took women in rooms and then locked them from in­side. Up to 50 women and girls of our vil­lage were tor­tured and raped.” Mo­ham­mad said houses in his vil­lage were burned, echo­ing sim­i­lar tes­ti­mony from other re­cent arrivals. One Ro­hingya man, who asked not to be named, told AFP in Myan­mar that troops had stormed into a neigh­bor­ing vil­lage early yes­ter­day morn­ing and fired in­dis­crim­i­nately on res­i­dents as they tried to es­cape.


Mean­while, thou­sands of Bangladeshis marched in the cap­i­tal’s streets yes­ter­day to protest the per­se­cu­tion of Ro­hingyas in Myan­mar, one of sev­eral sim­i­lar ral­lies in the re­gion. Chant­ing “Stop killing Ro­hingya Mus­lims,” they marched in Dhaka as vi­o­lence in Myan­mar’s Rakhine state es­ca­lated, forc­ing thou­sands to leave their homes. — AFP

JAKARTA: A Mus­lim man shouts slo­gans as he holds a de­faced poster of Myan­mar’s For­eign Min­is­ter Aung San Suu Kyi dur­ing a rally against the per­se­cu­tion of Ro­hingya Mus­lims out­side the Em­bassy of Myan­mar yes­ter­day. — AP

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