Rohingya Muslims are being ‘starved out’ of Burma
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 her...so, 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.