Thu 12-10-2017 10:28 AM

UN: Attacks against Rohingya ‘a ploy’ to drive them away; prevent their return

GENEVA, 12th October, 2017 (WAM) -- A report issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, has revealed that brutal, well-organised, coordinated and systematic attacks have been carried out against the minority Muslim Rohingya community in Myanmar, with the intention of not just driving them away but also preventing their return.

Based on interviews in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have sought refuge, the report also draws attention to a strategy to "instill deep and widespread fear and trauma, physical, emotional and psychological" among the Rohingya population.

"The [UN human rights] team documented consistent accounts of the Myanmar security forces surrounding or entering villages or settlements, sometimes accompanied by Rakhine Buddhist individuals firing indiscriminately at Rohingya villagers, injuring some and killing other innocent victims, setting houses on fire, and announcing in other villages that the same would befall them if they did not comply with the order to immediately abandon their homes," noted the report issued Wednesday by OHCHR.

According to the UN website, the report also cites testimony from witnesses that security forces committed extrajudicial and summary executions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and attacks on places of worship.

Specific attacks particularly targeted the educated in the Rohingya society such as teachers, business men, religious and community leaders, "people with influence", in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge, said OHCHR in a news release announcing the grim findings.

"Credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of the Rohingyas, targeting their houses, fields, food-stocks, crops, livestock and even trees, to render the possibility of the Rohingya returning to normal lives and livelihoods in the future in northern Rakhine almost impossible," it added.

More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the Myanmar security forces launched an operation in response to alleged attacks by militants on 25th August against 30 police posts and a regimental headquarters.

[Image caption: In September 2017, newly arrived Rohingya refugees from Myanmar walk through paddy fields and flooded land after they fled over the border into Cox’s Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh. Photo: UNICEF/Brown]


WAM/Esraa Ismail/Chris Moran