Myanmar pursues ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Rohingyas: UN
Thousands in Asia stage protests
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