News / Asia

Rights Group Slams Burmese Military on Rohingya Violence

In this June 13, 2012 file photo, Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh.
In this June 13, 2012 file photo, Rohingya Muslims who fled Burma to Bangladesh to escape religious violence, sit in a boat after being intercepted crossing the Naf River by Bangladeshi border authorities in Taknaf, Bangladesh.
Ron Corben
BANGKOK — A new report on the sectarian violence in Burma’s Western Rakhin State is accusing Burma’s military of participating in attacks on ethnic Rohingya and doing little to stop violence that killed at least 78 people and displaced tens of thousands. The Human Rights Watch report comes as the U.N. human rights envoy travels to the affected region.

The report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch says hundreds of Muslim Rohingya men and boys have been detained in mass arrests since June. It says their whereabouts are, as yet, unknown.

The bloodshed in Rakhin state between Muslim Rohingya and largely Buddhist communities erupted in May after a Arakan Buddhist woman was sexually assaulted and murdered.

This triggered reprisal killings in June, when 10 Muslim men were attacked and murdered by Arakan villagers.

Security forces criticized

Human Rights Watch says government security forces stood by and failed to intervene in the June 3 attack. Later, as violence escalated and thousands of Rohingya rioted, it says police and paramilitary trooped fired on Rohingya communities.

Rights workers interviewed both Arakan and Ronhingya communities.

A Rohingya man recounts how his house was raided by the military. He explains how the military searched all the homes. He says when no adults were found, soldiers tied up and beat the children until they fainted.

Both ethnic communities attacked villages and neighborhoods, destroying and burning homes, shops and houses of worship.

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Asia Director, said the Burmese government and army could have done more to prevent the bloodshed.

"There were failures of both ‘omission’ and ‘commission’ by the government of Burma," he said. "Omission in the early stages of the violence when the government did little to stop the sectarian violence which was then compounded by acts of commission which we documented as security forces took control of the situation and focused their attention on the Rohingya.”

Muslim exodus

In the capital of Sittwe most Muslims have fled or have been forcibly relocated. Shops held by Muslims have been commandeered by the state.

Burma largely denies citizenship to the estimated 800,000 to one million Rohingya, adding to communal tensions.

Robertson says Western governments have also failed to address the issue. He also criticized neighboring Bangladesh for a policy of pushing back to sea thousands of Rohingya who fled the violence. But Robertson remains convinced that the community can still achieve reconciliation.

"Obviously, there’s still time to stop this," he said. "There needs to be an effort to promote effective reconciliation between these two groups. But that reconciliation really requires also a full accounting of what has taken place. Who on both sides - the Rakine side and the Rohingya side were responsible for the violence? Who in the security forces ordered security forces to shoot civilians, to conduct these various different human rights violations and these mass sweeps?"

On Monday, Burma’s Foreign Ministry “strongly” rejected the charges of abuses and excessive force, saying the government exercised “maximum restraint” in order to restore law and order.

The government says it has set up a special committee to investigate the violence, as well as relief camps for both communities, with United Nations assistance. The International Committee for the Red Cross said it was also providing “basic aid and assistance” in Rakhin state.

The report’s release coincides with U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana's official visit to Burma. Quintana traveled to Rakhin state to evaluate the damage to the region. He is expected to report his findings in the coming days.

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by: Haroon Yousuf
August 08, 2012 5:24 PM
As we know that Rohingya are living in Arakan since centuries. Ok let them say that Rohingya community were brought by British from East Bengal in the year 1824 which is agreed them self and ofcourse it is a history. Now already passed 188 years and still Rohingya are not qualified for citizenship while they had been already recognized as citizen of Burma after the Burmese independent and have even many Muslims parliament members as proof.
UN should urge Burmese govt. again & again to accept the legitimacy of Rohingya. This is the only way to stabilize peace in Arakan State Burma.

by: Andy Chakma from: CHT, Bangladesh
August 02, 2012 7:26 AM
There is no ethnic group called 'Rohingya' in Myanmar. So called Rohingyas are Bengali infiltrators from neigboring Bangladesh. British brought them to Maynmar as farm laborers during colonial rule. The Bengali infiltrators are refusing to go home, they invented and identity 'Rohingya' to deceive the civilized world. The Bengali infiltrators are distorting the history of Myanmar, terrorizing the native people, raping the native women and ethnically cleansing the native people from northern Rakhine. They are funded and sponsored by Muslim Ummah (world). They must be send back to Bangladesh or any country that's willing to take them.

Myanmar is not an immigrant nation. Myanmar is a Buddhist nation made up of 135 Tibeto-Burman tribes. People do not get citizenship just because born there or forefathers lived there for centuries. Even liberal western countries do not grant citizenship on the basis of born there or lived there for centuries.

Muslim nations are the worst violators of human rights. Non-Muslim minorities suffer horrible persecution almost in every Muslim country. OIC and Muslim Ummah have no right to lecture Myanmar on human rights.

by: Maung Kyaw Nu, BRAT Chair from: Thailand
August 02, 2012 6:52 AM
W were at the HRW press conference at FCCT .We mostly agree HRW's statement .I raised the question about failure of UN to send peace keeping forces and intervention before killing the remaining Rohingyas.I also pointed out killing 25 thousand Rohingyas with in a short period which is same as Hitler used to finish many unarmed jews during world war. The world community will recall one day,if the remaining Rohingyas were not protected under the supervision o f UN forces today.
We also asked to immediately trace out the war criminals by UN sponsored inquiry commision .The criminals against the humanity must booked to for justices before the ICC.Since 1962 ,a lot of innocent people including Rohingya were killed in Burma.

by: Charlie from: California
August 01, 2012 7:38 PM
This is a nasty thing to write but it is what I feel. If a people over-populate their land (Bengal, which is divided between India and Bangla Desh) it should not be an option for them to simply infiltrate neighboring less inhabited countries and start breeding there. There is no right to do that unless it is to be accepted by every state on the planet - which it isn't. A few states like Japan and Quebec have enough sense to realize that short term economic benefits CAN be outweighed by the desire to preserve a culture's homogenity. States that wish to maintain that should not be harrassed by those states that put money first and use their definition of human rights to deny other states of their right to control their own borders and destinies. Peoples and states are accountable for their mistakes, not their neighbors.

by: Nik from: US
August 01, 2012 4:57 PM
Rohingyas have been living in the rakhine state (formerly known as Arakan) for centuries. Burma invaded Arakan and made it part of Burma in 1700s. Burma is carrying out systematic ethnic cleansing of Arakan's people the Rohingya minority for decades. UN must take action, if Burma does not want Rohingyas then Burma must let go of Arakan as well. Arakan must be made into a new nation independent of Burma. Once Arakan gains its independence Burma must be penalized and pay compensation to the new free Arakan nation for the decades of killings and destruction it carried out of Rohingya people. This money should be used to develop Arakan. The perpetrators of this crime against humanity must be brought to justice in the international courts.

by: davidcruseman from: singapore
August 01, 2012 12:54 PM
http://www.bdcburma.org DON'T KNOW DON'T COMMENT
In Response

by: Abu Lahab from: US
August 01, 2012 4:19 PM
@ davidcruseman

On your link it says that Jamaat-e-islami is claiming that 500 Muslims were murdered? The number of dead on both combined isn't that high. Looks like there is a campaign 1) to whip up the perpetual victim-hood of Muslims and 2) to call for Jihad to defend the said victims.

One of Jamaat-e-Islami stated goal:

"To transfer the leadership of the world from evil, immoral and rigs to the hands of righteous and faithful servants of Allah Almighty (God)."

Translation: Islamic domination!

by: Peter from: USA
August 01, 2012 12:09 PM
So where is the champion of Burmese Democracy movement Suu Kuu Yi? Why is she silent on this issue? Is this how her democracy works?

by: Burman from: earth
August 01, 2012 11:11 AM
All lies spread by media.

by: riversand from: India
August 01, 2012 11:08 AM


THERE WAS THE TIME WHEN THE BURMESE GOVERNMENT ASKED ALL CITIZENS TO GIVE OPTIONS ABOUT CITIZENSHIP IN THE LATE SIXTIES, GIVING JUST A FEW MONTHS TIME. MOST TAMILIANS AND OTHER INDIANS WHO HAD TOILED ALL THEIR LIFE FOR THE PROSPERITY OF BURMA CAME TO INDIA WITH THEIR BUSINESSES AND BELONGINGS, AND THE ROHINGYAS PREFERRED REMAINING CITIZENS OF BURMA., THUS THERE OUGHT NOT TO HAVE BEEN ANY QUESTION ABOUT THEIR ALLEGIANCE AND CITIZENSHIP OF MYANMAR. THE BUDDHIST MONKS' (WHO HAVE BEEN LIVING UNDER ABSENCE OF DEMOCRACY FOR FIFTY YEARS) AND GOVERNMENT'S SLAUGHTER OF THESE INNOCENTS IS CRIMINAL, AND THE WORLD SHOULD JUDGE THEIR CLAIMS AGAINST THE OPPRESSED PEOPLE AND ENQUIRE INTO THEIR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND PROVIDE SUCCOUR AND WHEREWITHAL TO THE ROHINGYAS.

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