Myanmar’s armed forces are committing a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. It is the fourth wave of violence that falls into this category – i.e. some of the most serious offences in international law – in five years.
This is occurring against the backdrop of a massive humanitarian crisis on both sides of the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. The latest figures in Bangladesh indicate that 144,500 children under five face malnutrition while more than 14,000 are close to death.1 The figures in Northern Rakhine State, the site of appalling violence over the last two months is impossible to assess accurately as the Myanmar authorities continue to severely restrict humanitarian access. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has described the humanitarian situation in the region as “catastrophic”.
The new arrivals in Bangladesh are unlikely to be going home anytime soon.
This is not the first crisis of its kind: on the contrary, it is the fourth time in five years that mass violence has accompanied ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, with attendant humanitarian disasters following in its wake.
The sheer frequency and acuity of this kind of abuse against the Rohingya, committed against the backdrop of chronic and decades-old state persecution, point to an ongoing strategy of “systemic weakening” of the ethnic Rohingya community as a whole, which has been argued to be a precursor stage to full-blown genocide.
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