Briefing: Myanmar Forces Starve, Abduct and Rob Rohingya, as Ethnic Cleansing Continues

The Myanmar security forces are committing serious human rights violations against the Rohingya population that remained in northern Rakhine State through the military’s campaign of violence last year. Since 30 November 2017, thousands of Rohingya women, men, and children have fled to Bangladesh, bringing the total number of Rohingya who have fled since August 2017 to 688,000.[1]

On 25 August 2017, Myanmar’s military launched an operation against the Rohingya population across northern Rakhine State, after a Rohingya armed group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), attacked around 30 security force outposts, killing 12 state officials. The military’s campaign has been marked by crimes against humanity, including the widespread killing of Rohingya women, men, and children; rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls; mass deportation; and the systematic burning of villages.[2]

During research in Bangladesh from 17-31 January, Amnesty International interviewed 11 Rohingya men and 8 Rohingya women who fled their villages in Myanmar in December 2017 or January 2018, months after the Myanmar authorities allege that violence stopped. Several were interviewed the day they arrived at a refugee camp; most of the rest were interviewed within 10 days of arriving. The vast majority came from villages in Buthidaung Township, though Amnesty also interviewed new arrivals from Maungdaw and Rathedaung Townships.

This briefing explores the violations that continue to force Rohingya families to leave Myanmar, as well as the abuse they face while in flight. A shortage of food is the most common reason new arrivals give for fleeing, as deliberate actions by the Myanmar authorities, including denial of access to rice fields and markets as well as restrictions on aid access, are in effect starving out many Rohingya who have tried to remain in their villages. In a few Rohingya villages, Myanmar soldiers have also carried out abductions, particularly of young women and girls, the news of which has driven other people to flee. And as people have walked for days toward Bangladesh in recent weeks, Myanmar forces have systematically robbed them at checkpoints, taking money and possessions.

While the most acute period of direct violence against Rohingya women, men, and children occurred between late August and late September, the security forces’ ongoing actions appear designed toward the same goal: to make northern Rakhine State unliveable for the Rohingya population.

Download full briefing paper HERE.

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