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.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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 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


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs