Recent atrocities in Rakhine State, Myanmar

Graphic: BBC

The Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign draws attention to its report documenting
the atrocities in Rakhine state, Myanmar, perpetrated by the Myanmar military and its supporters against the Rohingya in recent times.

The documentation is based on information received from the ground.

We report killings, rapes, torture, disappearances, extortion, burnings, looting and destruction of property. These are crimes against humanity.

We are well aware that the Burmese authorities will deny any wrongdoing and will probably say that the reports and allegations are nothing more than fabrication. No doubt they will also try to explain away the assassination yesterday of U Ko Ni at Yangon airport. These are very worrying times.

Sadly, ours is by no means the only report documenting such serious allegations against the Myanmar military and their supporters.

And not only in Rakhine state. The recent visit of the UN Special Rapporteur to Myanmar resulted in a preliminary statement raising “the extremely worrying situation in Kachin State, as well as in the north of Shan State” and reporting on the current allegations in Rakhine state as given context by “decades of systematic and institutionalised discrimination against the Rohingya population”.

She reports on the government’s position of denial, which she views as being unconstructive and undermining credibility. In particular, the government’s claims that the Rohingya are burning their own homes brought this response from her: “The authorities offered no evidence for this, and I find this argument quite incredible.”

Many other organisations, media and groups are reporting on the atrocities, and it is clear that only a truly independent (UN) Commission of Inquiry will establish the truth or otherwise of what is happening/has happened. This is something the Burmese authorities should welcome if they really have nothing to hide.

Meantime, it is urgent that the Burmese authorities open up access to all areas, to allow much-needed humanitarian aid to get directly to people in desperate need. And of course the rights of all Myanmar’s citizens need to be fully recognised, respected and protected, including the rights of all those who have fled to neighbouring countries (and who would return if their safety and status was secure).

In the meantime, we should note that there are now many initiatives being proposed by the Malaysian government in regard especially to the Rohingya here. We have long been part of those campaigning for recognition and rights to be given to all refugees in this country. Without such rights, women, men and children who have sought refuge here live precarious lives; many thousands languish in detention camps.

So of course we welcome all discussions and especially initiatives guaranteeing basic rights for refugees, and would re-iterate that these rights should be extended as a matter of principle to all refugees, regardless of background and ethnicity.

January 2017 report

So sadly, the stories continue to come in. We received reports of 14 Rohingya omen who were raped and scores of other women molested in Goduthara village n Southern Maungdaw on 7 January 2017. There were also arrests and homes
were plundered.

On 6 January, we heard that nine Rohingya villagers had been arrested by the Myanmar military and the Border Guard Police (BGP) at Maung Gyi Htaunt village in Northern Buthidaung. Three were later confirmed killed, with the fate of
the other six uncertain.

During raids on the village between 4 January and 8 January, the military and the BGP allegedly tortured scores of villagers and committed several rapes against the village women. The military also allegedly plundered livestock and properties belonged to the villagers.

We received updated reports from this village that on the evening of 10 January, more than 100 Myanmar military and the BGP again arrived at Maung Gyi Htaunt by boat on the evening of 10 Jamuary. The villagers are in fear of the possible atrocities which may be committed by these forces.

On 13 January, we received a photograph allegedly showing the skeletal remains found in a mass grave in Dar Gyi Za (Shorogozibil) village.

We also received reports that six women from Myawdaung (Salifarang) in north Maungdaw have allegedly been kept as sex slaves in Koe Tan Kauk military base in south Maungdaw. There are reports of many women from other villages being allegedly used as sex slaves in military bases.

And so it goes on…

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