International Desk: Myanmar security forces have brutally driven out half a million Muslim Rohingya from northern Rakhine state, torching their homes, crops and villages to prevent them from returning, the U.N. human rights office said on Wednesday.
Jyoti Sanghera, head of the Asia and Pacific region of the U.N. human rights office, called on Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to “stop the violence” and voiced fear that if the stateless Rohingya refugees return from Bangladesh they may be interned.
“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,” she told a news briefing.
In a report based on 65 interviews with Rohingya who have arrived in Bangladesh in the past month, it said that “clearance operations” had begun before insurgent attacks on police posts on Aug. 25 and included killings, torture and rape of children.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein - who has described the government operations as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” - said in a statement that the actions appeared to be “a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return”.
“Credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of the Rohingyas, scorched their dwellings and entire villages in northern Rakhine State, not only to drive the population out in droves but also to prevent the fleeing Rohingya victims from returning to their homes,” the report said.
It said the destruction by security forces, often joined by mobs of armed Rakhine Buddhists, of houses, fields, food stocks, crops, and livestock made the possibility of Rohingya returning to normal lives in northern Rakhine “almost impossible”.
The campaign was “well-organized, coordinated and systematic” and began with Rohingya men under 40 being arrested a month earlier, creating a “climate of fear and intimidation”.
“We are not in a position to make a finding of genocide or not, but this should in no way detract from the seriousness of the situation which the Rohingya population is currently facing,” said Thomas Hunecke, who led the team that went to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, from Sept. 14-24.
risingbd/Dhaka/Oct 11, 2017/Nasim