MYANMAR—For several weeks, thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape the alleged “ethnic cleansing” of the country’s minority group.
According to Reuters.com, hundreds of Rohingya Muslims crossed the Naaf River over the weekend and on Nov. 21 to seek refuge in camps and homes in Bangladesh. Seven people have been reported missing.
The violence started last month when nine border officers were killed. Security forces entered Rakhine state, where close to 1 million Rohingya Muslims live and began an operation that left 86 dead and 30,000 displaced. The Myanmar government claims that the military operation is targeted to the “violent attackers” who killed the nine border guards.
John McKissick, of the United Nations Refugee Agency, stated that security forces are “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river.” The Myanmar government denies the allegations.
Earlier this week, the Human Rights Watch organization released satellite images that revealed over 1200 homes in Rohingya villages that have been destroyed. The Myanmar government claimed that the “attackers” of the 9 police officers that were killed carried out the arson. Journalists and aid workers have been barred from the area making it difficult to confirm reports. Food and medicine supplies from humanitarian effort have been suspended for more than 40 days according to Al Jazeera’s site.
Since the 1970s, Rohingya Muslims have been seeking refuge in Bangladesh. According to BBC News, 33,000 Rohingya refugees are registered living in Cox’s Bazar’s two camps, Kutupalong and Nayapara. In Myanmar, Rohingya Muslims are seen as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and are denied citizenship despite living in Myanmar for generations. The country’s majority ethnic group is Buddhist.
Bangladesh’s official policy does not allow illegal entrants. According to BBC News, authorities in Bangladesh have been detaining and repatriate fleeing Rohingya Muslims who have made it to the border due to the influx, which Amnesty International claims is a violation of international law.
Nobel Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the first and incumbent State Counsellor and Leader of the National League for Democracy, is under criticism for her silence during the operation.
“Myanmar needs to follow international law and respect human rights and they’re not doing that right now, and it seems that the democratically elected government does not have control over the military,” McKissick told CNN reporters.