Ro­hingya Mus­lims are be­ing ‘starved out’ of Burma

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Ni­cola Smith

THE Burmese army is us­ing star­va­tion to drive the re­main­ing com­mu­ni­ties of the Mus­lim Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity out of the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to ex­iled ac­tivists in Bri­tain.

Mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions on aid have cre­ated a food cri­sis that make it im­pos­si­ble for the quar­ter of a mil­lion Mus­lims who re­main in Burma’s Rakhine state to stay, said Tun Khin, pres­i­dent of the Burmese Ro­hingya As­so­ci­a­tion UK.

“Ro­hingya are now be­ing starved out of Burma and un­less real pres­sure is put on the gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary to lift aid and move­ment re­stric­tions, most … will be forced out within weeks,” he said. About 519,000 refugees have crossed into neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh since Aug 25, when at­tacks by Ro­hingya mil­i­tants on se­cu­rity posts in Rakhine sparked a fe­ro­cious mil­i­tary crack­down.

A fresh surge of refugees, driven by fears of star­va­tion and vi­o­lence, fled to Bangladesh on Mon­day. How­ever, many oth­ers have been stranded on Burma’s Maung­daw beach, with­out food or shelter and un­able to pay traf­fick­ers to take them across the Naf river to safety.

The ma­jor­ity are from Buthi­daung district. Mr Tun, who has just re­turned from Bangladesh, told The Daily Tele­graph that they fled in des­per­a­tion be­cause the mil­i­tary had pre­vented them from ac­cess­ing food and pro­tected “Rakhine ex­trem­ists” who robbed them of ev­ery­thing they had.

“One per­son told me ‘the mil­i­tary are re­strict­ing us from mov­ing from one place to the other. I have no food. My wife is preg­nant and I have noth­ing to pro­vide, if I stay here an­other two or three days the baby will die’,” he said. Mr Tun’s claims were sup­ported by a graphic United Na­tions re­port re­leased on Wed­nes­day that de­tailed the bru­tal Burmese ef­fort to drive Ro­hingyas out by torch­ing their homes, crops and vil­lages to pre­vent them from re­turn­ing.

The re­port said “cred­i­ble information” re­vealed that the se­cu­rity forces had pur­posely razed prop­erty and tar­geted, fields, food stocks, live­stock and even trees.

“If vil­lages have been com­pletely de­stroyed and liveli­hood pos­si­bil­i­ties have been de­stroyed, what we fear is that they may be in­car­cer­ated or de­tained in camps,” Jy­oti Sanghera, head of the Asia and Pa­cific re­gion of the UN hu­man rights of­fice, said.

In a re­port based on 65 in­ter­views with refugees who re­cently ar­rived in Bangladesh, the UN said that “clear­ance op­er­a­tions” had be­gun even be­fore Ro­hingya in­sur­gents at­tacked po­lice posts in Au­gust, cit­ing de­lib­er­ate re­stric­tions on food, ac­cess to med­i­cal care, and ar­bi­trary ar­rests.

In some of the most shock­ing rev­e­la­tions, UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­tailed re­ports of child tor­ture and rape, and the case of a preg­nant woman whose un­born child had been cut out of her womb.

One 12-year-old girl told UN in­ter­view­ers how her lit­tle sis­ter had been shot by se­cu­rity forces.

“They shot my sis­ter in front of me, she was only seven years old. She cried and told me to run. I tried to pro­tect her… but we had no med­i­cal as­sis­tance on the hill­side and she was bleed­ing so

‘My wife is preg­nant and I have noth­ing... so, if I stay here an­other two or three days the baby will die’

much that after one day she died. I buried her my­self,” she said.

Zeid Ra’ad al-hus­sein, UN high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights, has called the Burmese gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tions “a text­book ex­am­ple of eth­nic cleans­ing”, an al­le­ga­tion that Burma has de­nied.

Priti Pa­tel, the In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary, pledged yes­ter­day to dou­ble the next £2mil­lion of public do­na­tions to the Dis­as­ters Emer­gency Com­mit­tee ap­peal for peo­ple flee­ing Burma.

“Mal­nour­ished chil­dren on the brink of death will now be able to eat, fam­i­lies who have been forced to live out in the open after their vil­lages were burned will get shelter and much needed clean wa­ter,” she said.

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