Myanmar pursuing 'ethnic cleansing' of Rohingya


25 November, 2016

Bangladesh police has detained dozens of Rohingya migrants, who have fled Myanmar amid reports that the military is burning down their villages and raping women.

Jeddah, Nov. 23 (BNA): Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expresses grave concern at the deteriorating situation following the ongoing security operation in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

The violence is the most serious since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in Rakhine in 2012, and poses the biggest test yet for the eight-month-old administration of Nobel Peace Prize victor Aung San Suu Kyi.

He said the Myanmar military and Border Guard Police are engaged in collective punishment of the Rohingya minority after the murders of nine border guards on 9 October which were blamed on a Rohingya militant group.

"These alarming new satellite images confirm that the destruction in Rohingya villages is far greater and in more places than the government has admitted", said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Thousands more are reportedly turning up at the border hoping to escape.

But the Bangladeshis, who for the most part share the Bengali language and Muslim faith with the Rohingya, say they have no room for refugees.

Almost 29,000 Rohingya who have been documented as refugees, have been living in two squalid camps in Cox's Bazar since the 1990s after they were driven out of Myanmar.

Bangladesh has responded to the influx of fleeing Rohingya by upping border controls and pushing hundreds of people back across the border where they face persecution and possibly death.

The foreign minister apprised the diplomatic community of the steps that the government had taken to establish and maintain friendly relations with Myanmar, particularly with the newly elected NLD government through engagements at different levels.

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"Bangladesh still stands firm on refusing to open the border along Myanmar".

Begum, now staying at the Kutupalong camp in southern Bangladesh, told CNN several women in her village were raped by regime soldiers.

Thousands of people from Myanmar have already crossed, and the Bangladeshi government said "thousands more have been reported to be gathering at the border".

A Myanmar presidential spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Under military lockdown, a humanitarian effort to provide food and medicines to more than 150,000 people has been suspended for more than 40 days in the area, home mostly to Rohingyas.

"Difficult as it is for the Bangladesh government to absorb large numbers, it seems to me there is no other choice", said John McKissick, who heads the United Nations refugee agency's office in southern Bangladesh.

Rohingya community leaders said hundreds of families had taken shelter in camps in the border towns of Teknaf and Ukhia, many hiding for fear they would be sent back to Myanmar. "All of them fled from their homes", she said.

The number of undocumented Rohingya living in Bangladesh is estimated to be between 200,000 and 500,000.

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