Myanmar Continues Its 'Campaign of Terror and Forced Starvation' Against Rohingya

Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel as members of the Myanmar security forces stand guard in Inn Din village. Reuters

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled over the border to Bangladesh since violence erupted in August, with horrifying testimonies emerging of murder, rape and arson by soldiers and vigilante mobs.

"The ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said after speaking to newly-arrived Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh".

"The nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of past year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation that seems to be created to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh", he added.

Gilmour also pointed out that the Bangladeshi and global humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis has been very impressive but that the rainy season threatens to have a devastating effect on refugee camps.

Despite Myanmar saying it was ready to accept back refugees under an pact signed with Bangladesh in November, he added: "Safe, dignified and sustainable returns are, of course, impossible under current conditions".

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While the majority of those refugees fled Myanmar a year ago, Rohingya Muslims continue to stream across the border to Bangladesh by the hundreds every week.

Last week, Myanmar's army deployed additional security forces to the border with Bangladesh, with the apparent aim of driving about 6,000 Rohingya refugees staying in a no man's land into Bangladeshi territory.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have announced provisional plans for the Rohingya - a mostly Muslim ethnic group - to return home to Myanmar's northern Rakhine state.

Myanmar does not recognize Rohingya as its citizens, arguing they are illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, which has led to continued discrimination against the Rohingya community as well as restrictions on their freedom of movement.

But rights groups and the United Nations have warned that conditions for their return are not close to being in place.

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James Gomez, Amnesty International's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the UN's new findings "sadly echo our own".

The area now occupied by the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Cox's Bazar has always been an important habitat for East Asian Elephants, the agency said.

A recent report in The Irrawaddy claimed that at least 90 percent of the state's Rohingya population have fled.

Members of the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population are accused of assisting the military in a campaign of murder, rape, and arson against the Rohingya - violence the United Nations brands "ethnic cleansing".

Rights groups say that is the tip of the iceberg from a force with a grim history of abuses around the country and open hostility towards the Rohingya.

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