08/02/2012, 00.00
MYANMAR - BANGLADESH
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HRW: government complicity in violence against the Rohingya Muslims

The authorities fail to intervene to stop the fighting. And, later, authorized the military to fire on the ethnic minority trying to save homes and personal property. Appeals to the international community. Meanwhile, Dhaka blocks the activities of three refugee organizations.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Burmese government forces stood by and watched as sectarian violence flared in Rakhine State, west Myanmar, in June, without intervening. Moreover, in the following days the military opened fire against the Rohingya Muslim minority, intent on trying to save their homes from fires and devastation. New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW), has published a report based on over 60 interviews with the Buddhist majority and Muslim Rohingya minority in Arakan. Activists call for a strong global response to the "atrocities" committed during the clashes that have killed 78 people, and displaced about 100 thousand people, mostly Muslims who have abandoned their native lands to seek refuge abroad.

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch says that the Burmese government "has pledged" to "put an end to sectarian violence," but "in reality, ... the facts show that State sponsored persecution and discrimination continue. " He invites the world community to "not close your eyes" in front of an "fictional about face" by Naypyidaw authorities.

Violence against the Burmese Rohingya is a decades long problem, compounded by the fact that the Myanmar government considers the Muslim minority illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. However, Dhaka has consistently denied them entry visas and pursues a policy of forced repatriation of refugees. Just this week the Bangladesh government ordered three international non-profit organizations - Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger UK Muslim Aid - to cut off aid to the Rohingya refugees who cross borders. For an official charity it "encourages the flow of refugees."

In June, the Kyaukphyu District Court, Rakhine State of Myanmar, sentenced three Muslims to death, held responsible for the rape and killing in late May of Thida Htwe, a young Arakanese Buddhist, the source of bloody sectarian clashes between Muslims and Buddhists (see AsiaNews 19/06/2012 Rakhine, ethnic violence: three death sentences for the rape-murder of a woman). In the following days, an angry mob, killed 10 Muslims who were travelling on a bus, completely unrelated to the murder.

The spiral of hatred resulted in a guerrilla war that has killed 29 others, including 16 Muslims and 13 Buddhists. According to official sources at least 2600 homes have been burned. The violence has also triggered a veritable exodus of the Rohingya Muslim minority, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of men, women and children seeking refuge on the coasts of Bangladesh and Thailand, but Bangkok and Dhaka are pursuing the policy of rejecting the Burmese Muslim minority the status of political refugees and exiles.

 

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