MYANMAR ROHINGYA ABUSES ARE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, SAYS UN

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Myanmar's army continues killing Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.
Myanmar’s army continues killing Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

Violence in Rakhine — home to the stateless ethnic group loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority — has surged in the last month after security forces poured into the area following a series of attacks on police posts blamed on local militants.

YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar’s Rohingya may be victims of crimes against humanity, the UN’s rights agency said Tuesday, as former UN chief Kofi Annan arrived in the country for a visit that will include a trip to northern Rakhine.

The army has carried out a bloody crackdown in Rakhine, and thousands of the Muslim minority have flooded over the border into Bangladesh this month, making horrifying claims of gang rape, torture and murder at the hands of security forces.

Some 30,000 have fled their homes and analysis of satellite images by Human Rights Watch found hundreds of buildings in Rohingya villages have been razed.

Myanmar has denied allegations of abuse, saying the army is hunting “terrorists” behind raids on police posts last month.

The government has lashed out at media reports of rapes and killings, and lodged a protest over a UN official in Bangladesh who said the state was carrying out “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya.
Foreign journalists and independent investigators have been banned from accessing the area to probe the claims.

On Tuesday, the UN OHCHR said Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya could be tantamount to crimes against humanity, reiterating the findings of a June report.

More than 120,000 Rohingya have been crammed into displacement camps since sectarian violence in 2012, where they are denied citizenship, health care and education and their movements are heavily curbed.

“The government has largely failed to act on the recommendations made in a report by the UN Human Rights Office… (that) raised the possibility that the pattern of violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity,” the OHCHR said in a statement.

Amid the mounting crisis, former UN chief Annan on Tuesday began a week-long visit to Myanmar that will include a trip to northern Rakhine.

Suu Kyi in August appointed her fellow Nobel laureate to head a special commission to investigate how to mend bitter religious and ethnic divides that split the impoverished state.

Annan has expressed “deep concern” over the violence in Rakhine, which has seen thousands of angry Muslims take to the streets across Asia in protest.

But Aye Win, a Muslim member of the Rakhine commission, defended Suu Kyi’s handling of the crisis.

“What she has inherited is a dump of rubbish, a junk yard,” he told AFP, pointing out the army retains control of security and defense under a constitution written under the former junta.
“Her hands are tied — she can’t do anything. What she is doing is trying to talk and negotiate and build trust” with the army, he added.

Thousands of desperate people have pushed over the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh in the last few days, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and the systematic killing of their ethnic group Thousands of desperate people have pushed over the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh in the last few days, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and the systematic killing of their ethnic group (AFP Photo/Munir Uz Zaman)
Thousands of desperate people have pushed over the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh in the last few days, bringing with them horrifying stories of gang rape, torture and the systematic killing of their ethnic group  (AFP Photo/Munir Uz Zaman)

Malaysia PM to Attend Rally Against Persecution of Rohingya

Meanwhile Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will take part in a rare rally to protest a bloody crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, an official from his office said Tuesday.

The gathering, which will take place in an yet-to-be announced location on Sunday, will involve politicians, NGOs and “all concerned with the issue” the official told AFP, without giving further details.

Last Friday, Malaysia summoned the Myanmar ambassador while around 500 Malaysians and Rohingya marched through a heavy tropical downpour from a Kuala Lumpur mosque to Myanmar’s embassy carrying banners denouncing the Rakhine “genocide.”

Muslim-majority Malaysia’s Cabinet also issued a statement last week condemning the violence, an unusually strong criticism against a fellow member of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which has a policy of non-interference in member states.

“The major gathering on Dec. 4 is to express our concern over the violence taking place on the Rohingya,” Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying by the Malay Mail Online on Tuesday.

Chong Ja Ian, a political analyst from the National University of Singapore, said Najib’s appearance at such a rally will be “odd.”

“During last year’s migrant crisis, there was criticism but it was oblique and not to this level,” he said. The discovery last year of human-trafficking camps — and scores of nearby graves — first in Thailand and then over the border in Malaysia caused shock and revulsion in Southeast Asia.

The camps are believed to have been used by people-smuggling syndicates who move large numbers of impoverished Rohingya out of Myanmar, where they face systematic repression, with most heading for Malaysia.

Violence in Rakhine — home to the stateless ethnic group loathed by many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority — has surged in the last month after security forces poured into the area following a series of attacks on police posts blamed on local militants.

A UN official has said Myanmar is engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims, as reports emerged of troops shooting at villagers as they tried to flee.

But Myanmar’s new civilian government, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has rejected the allegations.

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