News / Asia

HRW Accuses Burma of Ethnic Cleansing

This picture taken on October 10, 2012 shows an elderly Muslim Rohingya man pictured outside his tent at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe, capital of Burma's western Rakhine state.This picture taken on October 10, 2012 shows an elderly Muslim Rohingya man pictured outside his tent at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe, capital of Burma's western Rakhine state.
x
This picture taken on October 10, 2012 shows an elderly Muslim Rohingya man pictured outside his tent at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe, capital of Burma's western Rakhine state.
This picture taken on October 10, 2012 shows an elderly Muslim Rohingya man pictured outside his tent at the Dabang Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, located on the outskirts of Sittwe, capital of Burma's western Rakhine state.
Daniel Schearf
Human Rights Watch says Burma's government and local authorities engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

In a 156-page report released Monday in Bangkok, the group says authorities actively sought to displace Rohingyas in western Rakhine state following sectarian violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims.

Matthew Smith is a Burma researcher with Human Rights Watch.  He said officials and security allowed extremist politicians and monks to incite anti-Muslim rumors in Rakhine state, also known as Arakan. He says they then did little to stop the bloodshed.

"Not only did they fail to intervene, but government security forces and authorities destroyed mosques, effectively blocked humanitarian aid to Rohingya populations and at times acted alongside Arakanese to forcibly displace Muslims," he said. "Security forces raided Muslim homes and villages, at times shooting at villagers, looting homes and businesses, rounding up people of all ages, including teenagers and children as young as eight years old."

The report, titled "All You Can Do is Pray", is based on interviews with more than 100 Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists, many of them eyewitnesses.

Some of the worst incidents include a massacre of 70 Rohingya on October 23, 2012 in Yan Thei village.  Despite advanced warning of an attack, security disarmed the Rohingya of sticks and other simple weapons and then failed to protect them from Buddhist mobs.  Among them were 28 children hacked to death, half of them less than five years old.

According to official figures, the total death toll from two rounds of clashes in June and October was about 200 people with more than 100,000 left homeless - the vast majority of them Rohingya Muslims.

But, Human Rights Watch says it uncovered evidence of at least four mass graves created or overseen by local security, raising concerns that the death toll could be higher.

Phil Robertson is deputy Asia director for the New York-based group.  He said it is calling for an independent international investigation and for authorities to be held responsible.

"There are no indications that the government has seriously investigated or attempted to hold accountable those responsible for planning, organizing or participating in the violence," he said.  "Government security forces either did nothing to stop the violence or participated in it."  

A Burma government spokesman was not immediately available to respond to the accusations, but authorities have in the past strongly denied security forces participated in attacks.  Officials claim they were simply overwhelmed by mob violence and have downplayed the attacks as communal rather than largely one-sided against Muslims.

The report comes as the European Union is meeting to discuss lifting economic sanctions against Burma.  The EU and others, including the United States, suspended sanctions last year to reward Burma's democratic reforms.  

Robertson said it is too early to lift sanctions as benchmarks for progress have not been met and it would diminish the EU's leverage.

"Essentially, in our view, the EU member countries are ditching measures that have motivated the current progress on human rights and gambling on the goodwill of Burma's government and military to keep their word to keep reforms on track," he added.

The Rohingya are not recognized as citizens in Burma and are considered by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.  Thousands of Rohingya have fled Burma in overcrowded wooden boats that wash up in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, while hundreds more have drowned in attempt to flee after last year's violence.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is visiting Burma this week.

Robertson says Burma's neighbors have a particular responsibility on the Rohingya issue.

"We think that the president of Indonesia and the prime minister of Malaysia, and other countries which are receiving significant numbers of Rohingya coming by boats, have an important role to play in engaging with Burma and telling Burma that this is unacceptable, that these people are citizens of Burma," explained Robertson.  "They must be considered as such and that, for Burma to continue to pursue policies that encourage people to flee on rickety boats onto the oceans and land in neighboring countries, is unacceptable."

Leaders of the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations are meeting for a summit in Brunei this week but, because they only act on consensus, they are not expected to discuss the issue.

Robertson says ASEAN has been virtually silent on the Rohingya issue and urged the group to reconsider whether Burma is still an appropriate host for the ASEAN summits in 2014.

You May Like

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Freddy
April 22, 2013 10:52 AM
One could also ask how many pages were ever compiled by HRW on Zimbabwe, during the early eighties when 20,000 people lost their lives, let alone the UN. Many such issues are diplomatically condoned and "swept under the carpet". Sad but true

by: lstmohican from: USA
April 22, 2013 7:48 AM
The human rights report released on April 19, 2013 by the US Department of State did not find any such problem and said Myanmar made progress on its human rights. However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other international organizations are being used as a mouth piece by Saudi Arabia and the muslim countries with vast petro dollars in a consorted propaganda campaign to annex Myanmar, now a predominantly Buddhist nation, into a muslim Sharia state. This conspiracy to create independent “Newrosia” state was revealed in several investigative reports from neighboring Bangladesh, a muslim country. (Search internet using keywords SCRIBD.COM NEWROSIA CONSPIRACY TERRORISTS).

Buddhism that was once a predominant religion in countries as far as Afghanistan, Maldives, India, Indonesia have completely disappeared due to relentless attacks by Islamic forces and the pacifist nature of Buddhism. As in the case of Nalanda, a Buddhist university in India which was attacked and destroyed by Turkish Muslim invaders under Bakhtiyar Khalji. Instead of taking arms or conversion to Islam, the Buddhist opted to be slain by the invaders. Let history not repeat itself again. It is time for predominantly Buddhist nations (starting with Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Mongolia) to form an international organization such as ORGANIZATION OF BUDDHIST NATIONS (OBN) not only to counter the threat from Muslim fundamentalism and other forms of terrorism but also to have a united voice in world affairs.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs