Myanmar’s military killed numerous Rohingya civilians as they tried to escape government-organised violence near the Bangladesh border, witnesses have told Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The accounts describe soldiers beating, sexually assaulting, stabbing and shooting civilians, including children, who had gathered in Maung Nu village, two days after violence broke out on August 25.
HRW spoke to 14 survivors and witnesses from Maung Nu and other villages who said around 100 Rohingya men and boys were killed on August 27 as they sheltered in a large residential compound. Troops took the Rohingya men and boys into the courtyard and shot or stabbed them to death, before driving the corpses away in military trucks, witnesses claimed.
Satellite pictures showed almost total destruction of the villages of Maung Nu and nearby Hpaung Taw Pyin, which appeared to have been burned down, according to the New York-based NGO.
Meanwhile, the UN committees for the rights of women and children have warned that bloodshed in Rakhine State “may amount to crimes against humanity”.
“We are deeply concerned at the state’s failure to put an end to these shocking human rights violations being committed at the behest of the military and other security forces,” the UN body announced.
The army’s violent crackdown was in response to reported Rohingya militant attacks on government outposts, resulting in “clearance operations” that have seen around 500,000 Rohingya flee into Bangladesh.
The overcrowded nation now hosts an estimated 809,000 Rohingya refugees.
The UN praised Bangladesh for its “extraordinary spirit of generosity” in opening up its borders to Muslim refugees.
But Bangladesh has tried to deter more arrivals with a clampdown on boats running refugees across the Naf river along the border.
The Bangladeshi authorities said they had destroyed at least 30 wooden fishing vessels whose captains were accused of smuggling Rohingya and drugs across the border.
The US Congress is calling for “full access” for the media and aid grouops to Rakhine State.
“It is very important that we get reporters on the ground, that we get USAid on the ground,” said Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. “Because as long as that presence is there, it’s a check to these kinds of atrocities.”
Royce said the White House had promised US$32 million in aid, US$28 million of which would go to Bangladesh.
Nay Pyi Taw’s envoys told the UN Security Council that “there is no ethnic cleansing and no genocide” In Rakhine.
An estimated 809,000 Rohingya refugees are sheltering in Bangladesh. Picture credit: YouTube