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August 14, 2012

Burma's Muslims slaughtered while media looks the other way

The Canadian Charger

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While the developed world champions the dawn of democracy in Myanmar, in the villages and cities of Arakan State, near the Bangladeshi border, a pogrom against a population of Muslims called the Rohingyas is escalating.

An August 2012 Human Rights Watch report, based on 57 interviews conducted in June and July 2012 with affected Arakan, Rohingya, and others in Burma and in Bangladesh, where Rohingya have sought refuge from the violence and abuses, said that soon after the sectarian violence began, security forces conducted systematic and abusive sweeps in the predominantly Muslim townships of northern Arakan State, claiming to be looking for suspected Rohingya rioters.

Between June 12-24, these forces entered villages around Maungdaw Township, opened fire on Rohingya, looted properties, and rounded up men and boys, taking them to unknown locations where most have since been held incommunicado.

Family members of those arrested told Human Rights Watch that they had not heard from their relatives since security forces boarded them onto trucks and took them away.

Though the army eventually contained the mob violence in the state capital, Sittwe, both Arakan and Rohingya witnesses told Human Rights Watch that government forces stood by while members from each community attacked the other, razing villages and committing an unknown number of killings.

The August 2012 Human Rights Watch report, says the Myanmar government could have stopped the slaughter.

Meanwhile, as the US calls for respect for human rights and the rule of law throughout the Arab world, it has led the way in dropping many sanctions and encouraging investment in Myanmar, even announcing on July 11 the ending of key investment sanctions at the height of the crisis in Arakan State.

After characterizing the Rohingyas as “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world,” the United Nations sent UN Special Rapporteur Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana to Arakan State on July 31, but according to Rohingyas News Blogger M.S. Anwar – one of the few sources of information in the region because the international media is simply not there - the Myanmar government has gone to great lengths to cover up its crimes against humanity.

Most recently, unconfirmed reports – the only ones available – say over 1000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed, 1,200 plus are missing and more than 100,000 have been displaced due to rape, arson and killing.

Mr. Anwar said there have been several attempts and steps taken by the government in Arakan to deceive the visiting UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana about the actual situation of Arakan and to cover up the crimes committed against Rohingyas:

“The authorities are forcing the leaders of Rohingyas in Maung Daw and Buthidaung to say to Mr. Quintana that they are in (sic) peaceful situation and government has only arrested those who involved in the violence.

“The authority are clearing all the blocks to show that people can move freely and forcing Rohingyas to re-open the remaining businesses.

“Until two days ago, Rohingyas were not allowed to do their lifeline (sic) cultivation of crop rice. Now, the NaSaKa (government security forces) in Maung Daw are forcing Rohingyas to start their cultivation and subsequently taking photographs of them.

“NaSaKa is (sic) behaving as if they are giving some food rations. The foods given to Rohingyas are taken back by NaSaKa after the completion of their photographic sessions.”

In short, Mr. Anwar said the authorities in Arakan commanded all Rohingyas and Rakhines (a nationality in Myanmar forming the majority along the coastal region of the present day state of Rakhine , formerly Arakan), to show solidarity and live like friends from the 1st August to the 5th August, in an attempt to deceive the visiting UN Special Rapporteur.

Moreover, according to internal sources, those in police custody in Maung Daw and Buthiduang have become a Burmese version of the Nazi extermination camps, where many Rohingyas arrested and locked up are being killed by torture and various other means.

“The Rohingyas, including under-aged ones, are kept without water for days. When they are given foods, it is not on the plates but on the ground. Then, their hands are tied with ropes and they are forced to eat using their mouths. Besides, authorities of the custodies (sic) frequently put SALT into wounds of Rohingyas resulted from the tortures. Whoever dies is buried inhumanely wherever possible. Therefore, it is quite similar to how Jews were treated in Nazi's extermination camps.”

Mr. Anwar said it has been known to the world that the monks in Rakhine (Arakan) state are restricting Rohingyas' access to foods, rations and medication.

“The monks boycotted 22 Rohingyas villages in Kyauktaw Township. No Rohingya from these 22 villages are allowed to go out of their villages in search of foods and making them (Rohingyas) die by starvation inside their villages. To add more horrors, according to a reliable source from Maung Daw, about 2 to 3 Rohingyas per day (including children) are being slaughtered in "Allu Daw Bray (Byay)" monastery opposite to the government hospital in Maung Daw. During the raids by the police and Lunthin (security guards), which are made of Rakhines, hundreds of Rohingyas were arrested. Some of them were killed on the spot, some have been kept and being tortured in police custodies and some were handed over to the concerned monastery to be slaughtered.”

Meanwhile, the arresting of educated Rohingyas and their religious leaders continues in Buthidaung and Maung Daw.

As one of the few voices of the Rohingyas, who are being slaughtered, Mr. Anwar made a plea to the international community to live up to its commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

“The people of the world regretted and mourned after the holocaust of six million Jews. Then, they decided and took oath to not let happen such kind of atrocities, ethnic cleansing, genocides and the crimes against humanity take place on the earth again. Yet, it is taking place against Rohingyas in Arakan state of Burma. Do come forward to save them before it is too late.”

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