Hundreds of thousands have fled violence in Rakhine state, in Myanmar, during the last two weeks. The refugees have been arriving in neighbouring Bangladesh, telling horrific stories of violence, rape, mass killings and entire villages being burnt down. So far, an estimated 270,000 of Myanmar’s minority Rohingya population of around 1.1 million have fled what sounds ominously like a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Myanmar’s armed forces. This is apparently happening as retribution for ambushes on government forces by a Rohingya militant group in late August.
The outbreak of violence comes after decades of ethnic tension and latest reports suggest that hundreds may have died. The Rohingya people, who live mostly in Rakhine state, are descended from Muslim immigrants who came to the region hundreds of years ago and have lived very uneasily alongside Myanmar’s Buddhist majority.
“When they are being killed and forcibly transferred in a widespread or systematic manner, this could constitute ethnic cleansing and could amount to crimes against humanity,” Adama Dieng, the UN special advisor for the prevention of genocide, said.
The Myanmar government claims that the Rohingya are burning their own homes and that they have killed Hindus and Buddhists, and the military have said that the majority of those killed were terrorists.
(photo credits- guardian.co.uk)