30,000 dis­placed by vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine State: UN

The Myanmar Times - - News -

UP to 30,000 peo­ple have been dis­placed by re­newed vi­o­lence in north­ern Rakhine State, the UN said on Novem­ber 18. Half of the dis­place­ment oc­curred over the course of the pre­vi­ous week, when dozens of peo­ple died in clashes with the mil­i­tary.

Since at­tacks on three border guard posts in the early hours of Oc­to­ber 9, troops have poured into a strip of land along the Bangladesh border, an area which is largely home to the state­less Mus­lim mi­nor­ity who self-iden­tify as Ro­hingya.

The army last week said troops have killed nearly 70 peo­ple as they hunt the at­tack­ers, al­though hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions say the num­ber could be much higher.

Vi­o­lence es­ca­lated over the week­end of Novem­ber 12, with state me­dia re­port­ing troops had killed more than 30 peo­ple in two days of fight­ing af­ter the army re­sponded to am­bushes by bring­ing in he­li­copter gun­ships.

The UN’s Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (OCHA) said 15,000 peo­ple were be­lieved to have fled their homes over the space of 48 hours.

“Up to 30,000 peo­ple are now es­ti­mated to be dis­placed and thou­sands more af­fected by the Oc­to­ber 9 armed at­tacks and sub­se­quent se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions across the north of Rakhine State,” said a spokesper­son for the UNOCHA.

Seek­ing to es­cape the surge of vi­o­lence, 125 Mus­lim Ro­hingya re­port­edly at­tempted to flee to Bangladesh, but were pre­vented from en­ter­ing the neigh­bour­ing coun­try by the Bangladesh coast guard on Novem­ber 18.

Bangladesh au­thor­i­ties pa­trolling the Naf River, which sep­a­rates Bangladesh’s south­east­ern border from western Myan­mar, pushed back a group of Ro­hingya try­ing to en­ter the coun­try, lo­cal coast guard of­fi­cial Nafiur Rah­man told AFP.

“There were 125 Myan­mar na­tion­als in seven wooden boats. They in­cluded 61 women and 36 chil­dren. We re­sisted them from en­ter­ing our wa­ter ter­ri­tory,” Mr Rah­man told AFP.

He added that all of the pas­sen­gers were Ro­hingya who tried to en­ter Bangladesh amid the uptick of vi­o­lent clashes in Rakhine State.

An­other coast guard of­fi­cer said he saw two bod­ies float­ing in the Naf River dur­ing a pa­trol.

Myan­mar’s state me­dia has de­nied that Bangladesh had pushed any­one back, with The Global New Light of Myan­mar re­port­ing, “An in­quiry into news re­ports by Reuters that nearly 200 peo­ple flee­ing Myan­mar had been ar­rested and re­pulsed yes­ter­day by Bangladesh border guards has been found to be false.”

It cited a newly cre­ated News In­for­ma­tion Com­mit­tee of the State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice, which was set up to dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in Rakhine State as vi­o­lence has es­ca­lated in the wake of the border guard post at­tacks last month.

The English-lan­guage state me­dia re­port from Novem­ber 19 said a mem­ber of the Myan­mar Border Guard Force had asked Lieu­tenant Colonel Abu Zar Al Zahid, com­man­der of the No 2 Border Guard Bangladesh, about the al­leged push­back. “He had also heard the same re­ports, but stated such events never hap­pened,” the re­port said.

Au­thor­i­ties have heav­ily re­stricted ac­cess to the area, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify gov­ern­ment re­ports or ac­cu­sa­tions of army abuse.

Ac­tivists have ac­cused troops of killing civil­ians, rap­ing women and torch­ing homes – al­le­ga­tions the gov­ern­ment has ve­he­mently de­nied.

A del­e­ga­tion of UN of­fi­cials and for­eign diplo­mats were per­mit­ted a brief trip to the area on Novem­ber 4 in an ef­fort to get aid de­liv­er­ies re­in­stated. State me­dia hailed the visit as proof no abuses had been car­ried out.

The UN’s spe­cial rap­por­teur on hu­man rights in Myan­mar, Yanghee Lee, has crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the cri­sis, and urged a trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ac­cu­sa­tions of rape and mur­der by the se­cu­rity forces.

“State Coun­sel­lor [Daw] Aung San Suu Kyi has re­cently stated that the gov­ern­ment is re­spond­ing to the sit­u­a­tion based on the rule of law. Yet I am un­aware of any ef­forts on the part of the gov­ern­ment to look into the al­le­ga­tions of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions,” Ms Lee said in a Novem­ber 18 state­ment.

“The se­cu­rity forces must not be given carte blanche to step up their op­er­a­tions un­der the smoke­screen of hav­ing al­lowed ac­cess to an in­ter­na­tional del­e­ga­tion. Ur­gent ac­tion is needed to bring res­o­lu­tion to the sit­u­a­tion.” – AFP, ad­di­tional re­port­ing by

The Myan­mar Times

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