More than 100 thousand Rohingya Muslims flee persecution and violence in Myanmar
Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - More than 100 thousand Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar over the past two years, since the beginning of sectarian violence with the Buddhist majority, leaving behind misery and despair in search of a better life. This was denounced by groups of Burmese human rights activists. The mass exodus takes place on boats from the territories in Rakhine State, in the west: the numbers are steadily rising.
Chris Lewa, director of the non-governmental
organization Arakan Project,
said that the new exodus began on 15 October, with
an average of 900 people a day who are flocking aboard
on boats departing from ports of the State. A total
of nearly 10 thousand people in
less than two weeks, one of the highest peaks since beginning of the emergency
two years ago.
Since June 2012, the western state of Rakhine has witnessed violent clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya causing at least 200 deaths and 250 thousand displaced people. According to United Nations estimates, there are still 800 thousand members of the Muslim minority in Myanmar, who the government considers illegal immigrants and who are therefore subject to abuse and persecution.
To date, there are still 140 thousand displaced persons confined in refugee centers which, as according to the Burmese government must accept
the classification of Bengali - and obtain citizenship -
or remain in the camps "for
life". Within these camps they are deprived of
basic rights, such as health care, education or work. The
Catholic Church in Burma has intervened on
several occasions against the marginalization and
neglect faced by the Muslim
According to the activist group the Rohingyas fleeing make a first stop in Thailand, where they are taken to shelters in the jungle and are victims of abuse, extortion and other types of violence before being released. In a second step, they head for Malaysia or other countries, Muslim and non, where they do not enjoy the rights of citizenship. Again, their future remains uncertain.
In recent weeks, the Burmese authorities have made dozens of arrests of members of the Muslim minority, for alleged links with the militant group Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (Rso); during arrest and detention they suffered ill-treatment, torture and abuse. According to the Arakan Project group at least three people have died because of the beatings and the campaign of arrests is "aimed at accelerating the departures" from the country. Instead the government spokesman for Rakhine State, Win Myaing, calims that "nothing happened" and "there has been no arrests".