The Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar is facing the deadliest violence against its vulnerable people in decades. The state-sanctioned genocide in the Buddhist-majority Rakhine state has forced some 500,000 civilians to flee to Bangladesh in the last couple of weeks alone.
According to a UNICEF report, nearly 200,000 children are among the civilians who have fled the massacre. The report further reveals more than 1,000 of them are unaccompanied.
Citing the atrocities, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called out the Aung San Suu Kyi’s government for the bloodshed and demanded prosecution of Myanmar’s officials.
“We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authorities what they appear to be — a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority. The Burmese military must respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Those who have been accused of committing abuses should be removed from command responsibilities immediately and prosecuted for wrongdoing,” she said.
This was the first time Washington has echoed the U.N.’s accusation that the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in Rakhine State is part of ethnic cleansing.
Myanmar rejects the accusations and has denounced rights abuses.
“I can assure you that the leaders of Myanmar, who have been struggling so long for freedom and human rights, will never espouse policy of genocide or ethnic cleansing and that the government will do everything to prevent it,” said Myanmar’s national security adviser U Thaung Tun.
During the first public meeting on Myanmar in eight years, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday that the violence against Rohingya Muslims in the northern part of Rakhine could spread to central Rakhine, where 250,000 more people were at risk of displacement.
He further said that the violence had spiraled into the “world’s fastest developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”
Rohingya Muslims have been trying to flee Rakhine Estate because of the increase in operations by Myanmar’s military.
The military is burning Rohingya houses to the ground and destroying their crops. Hundreds of Rohingya have drowned as their boats capsize while trying to reach safe territories.
Around 400,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh in less than three weeks and people are still arriving by land and sea after attacks by alleged Rohingya militants sparked a fierce counteroffensive by Myanmar’s army.
The Myanmar government has stopped international aid groups and U.N. agencies from carrying out most of their work in the north of Rakhine state, citing insecurity since the Aug. 25 insurgent attacks.
Aid groups said in a joint statement they were “increasingly concerned about severe restrictions on humanitarian access and impediments to the delivery of critically needed humanitarian assistance throughout Rakhine State.”
Sadly, the atrocities aginst Rohingya Muslims don't seem likely to end any time soon. Their problems are increasing and they’re losing their homes, possessions and families but the world is talking very little about it, let alone taking action on it.