Myanmar engages in ethnic cleansing: HRW

Myanmar (Burma) authorities were complicit in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority group last year, Human Rights Watch alleges.

Myanmar (Burma) authorities were complicit in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslim minority group last year, Human Rights Watch alleges.

In a 153-page report based on interviews with more than 100 victims of sectarian fighting in Rakhine state, the organisation documented the alleged role of authorities, Buddhist groups and Rakhine communities in attacks on Rohingyas and other Muslims that left more than 100 dead and displaced 125,000 people.

"The Burmese government engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through the denial of aid and restrictions on movement," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The violence was triggered by the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman on May 28, sparking attacks on Rohingya Muslim communities in June and October in the state that borders Bangladesh.

"While much of the violence appears to have been carried out by mobs with weapons, various branches of the state security forces stood by and did nothing to provide security for attacked Muslims and at times participated directly in the atrocities - this includes the local police, Lon Thein riot police, the inter-agency border control force called Nasaka, and the army and navy," the report said.

Human Rights Watch criticised President Thein Sein for failing to hold anyone accountable, and for allowing local communities to hinder international aid from reaching a dozen camps where the 125,000 displaced people have been for months, most of them Rohingya.

It urged the government to launch an independent investigation and to consider amending the 1982 legislation that denied the Rohingya community Myanmar citizenship.

The law states that people who are not members of the eight "national races," must prove their ancestors settled in Myanmar before independence in 1948.

The Rohingyas, many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations, are of Bengali descent.

"We think the 1982 citizenship act is very suitable for our country," said Kyaw Yin Hlaing, secretary of the government's investigation team on the Rakhine violence.

"Myanmar lies between the two most populous countries - China and India, so we are always careful and we think no one has been discriminated against under this law," he said.

Source: SBS

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