Bangladesh and Burma: The Rohingya Crisis
1.In the past several months the international community has watched as a huge human tragedy unfolded for the Rohingya people living in the northern Burmese state of Rakhine. In a culmination of many decades of discrimination, marginalisation and abuse, a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” has been perpetrated by Burma’s security forces against the Rohingya under the guise of an appropriate response to militia violence in the summer.
2.In October 2016, a group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked three police outposts in northern Rakhine State, killing nine policemen and taking weapons. In August 2017, ARSA attacked 30 such outposts, this time with firearms, killing 12 soldiers. These latter attacks were the trigger for what the UK Government has described as “completely disproportionate” and “brutal” clearances of Rohingya communities by Burma’s military, alongside violent attacks by local vigilantes. Estimates of Rohingya casualties vary from the Burmese Government’s figure of 400 to estimates of between 9,000 and 13,700 published in December 2017 by Medecins sans Frontieres. These fatalities are in addition to a catalogue of reported atrocity crimes, involving rape (including of children), torture and other violence against civilians, the destruction of hundreds of communities and the deployment of landmines along the Burma/Bangladesh border.
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