Friday, June 14, 2024

Rohingya groups call for urgent ‘humanitarian intervention’ after violence escalates in Myanmar’s Arakan 

Rohingya organizations on Wednesday issued a dire warning about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Arakan, urging the international community to take immediate action to protect the persecuted ethnic minority from further displacement, violence, and potential mass atrocities.

In a joint statement released on May 22, 2024, the organizations paint a harrowing picture of the situation faced by the Rohingya population in the region. According to the statement, only one-third of the 600,000 Rohingyas who fled the genocidal attacks of 2016-2017 remain in their original homes in Arakan or Rakhine State. 

The 2016-2017 Rohingya genocide, as documented by various UN reports, was a systematic campaign of violence and persecution carried out by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State. A UN fact-finding mission found that the military’s actions resulted in widespread killings, over 25,000 casualties, gang rapes, arson attacks on Rohingya villages, and other serious human rights violations. These actions were considered crimes against humanity and genocidal acts.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya have been internally displaced in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships, with many ordered to leave the town of Buthidaung by the Arakan Army (AA) on May 18. The statement alleges that the AA soldiers fired shots overhead and looted and burned houses, forcing thousands of Rohingya, including women, children, and the elderly, to flee for their lives.

The displaced Rohingya now face a dire lack of food, shelter, clean water, and medical care, with the statement warning that the death toll will likely rise soon due to starvation and inadequate humanitarian aid.

Calls for international intervention and accountability

The letter urged the international community to put pressure on the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army to end the mass forced displacement and human rights violations against the Rohingya communities. They have also called for robust engagement with the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army to ensure safe and unrestricted delivery of international humanitarian assistance.

Additionally, the statement demands investigations by the UN and independent bodies into the current crisis, to publicly report on the violations and collect evidence for future prosecutions.

Allegations of atrocities and divide-and-rule strategy

The joint statement alleges that the Myanmar military has employed a divide-and-rule strategy in Rakhine State, forcibly recruiting Rohingya men from detention camps and villages to fight alongside the military as “cannon fodder.” There are also unverified reports of mass killings and abductions of Rohingya civilians in numerous villages preceding the arson attack on Buthidaung town.

The military is also accused of collaborating with Rohingya armed groups like the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Arakan Rohingya Army (ARA), and Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), with allegations that these groups are abducting Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and trafficking them to Maungdaw to fight alongside the Myanmar military.

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