Rohingya return impossible: UN | 2017-10-12 |

Rohingya return impossible: UN

Staff Correspondent     12 October, 2017 12:00 AM printer

Rohingya return impossible: UN

Many Rohingya people wait for crossing the border to Bangladesh near Gaw Du Thar Ya village in Maungdaw, Northern Rakhine State of Myanmar.-AFP Photo

The repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar appears to be almost impossible as a “systematic” attack on the minority community is aimed at permanently driving them out from their homes in Rakhine state.

Brutal attacks on Rohingyas in Rakhine have been well-organised, coordinated and systematic, with the intent of not only driving out the population but preventing them from returning to their homes, the United Nations said in a report on Wednesday.

The human rights violation was committed by Myanmar security forces in concert with armed Buddhist individuals in Rakhine, it added.

The report, which is based on interviews with Rohingyas who have recently fled to Bangladesh, details a campaign by Myanmar’s military to terrorise the Rohingya through atrocities that range from indiscriminate killings to rape.

The UN Human Rights Office made the report after conducting some 65 interviews with individuals and groups in Cox’s Bazar.

It highlights a strategy to “instill deep and widespread fear and trauma – physical, emotional and psychological” among the Rohingya population.

Over half a million of Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar security forces launched an operation on 25 August in response to alleged militant attacks.  

The report states the “clearance operations” started before 25 August.

The UN Human Rights Office is deeply concerned over safety of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who remain in northern Rakhine State amid reports the violence is still ongoing.

The UN office calls on the authorities to immediately allow humanitarian and human rights actors unfettered access to the stricken areas.

The report cites testimony from witnesses that security forces scorched dwellings and entire villages were responsible for extrajudicial and summary executions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and attacks on places of worship.

Eyewitnesses reported numerous killings, saying some victims were deliberately targeted and others were killed through explosions, fire and stray bullets.A 12-year-old girl from Rathedaung township described how “they [Myanmar security forces and Rakhine Buddhist individuals] surrounded our house and started to shoot. It was a situation of panic – they shot my sister in front of me, she was only seven years’ old. She cried and told me to run. I tried to protect her and cared for her, but we had no medical assistance on the hillside and she was bleeding so much that after one day she died. I buried her.”

The report states that in some cases, before and during the attacks, megaphones were used to announce: “You do not belong here – go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you.”

Credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of Rohingyas, targeting their houses, fields, food-stocks, crops, livestock and even trees, to render the possibility of the Rohingya returning to normal lives and livelihoods in the future in northern Rakhine almost impossible.

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who has described the Government operations in northern Rakhine State as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” has urged the government to immediately end its “cruel” security operation.

By denying the Rohingya population their political, civil, economic and cultural rights, including the right to citizenship, he said, the Government’s actions appear to be “a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return.”

The report indicates that efforts were taken to effectively erase signs of memorable landmarks in the geography of the Rohingya landscape and memory in such a way that a return to their lands would yield nothing but a desolate and unrecognizable terrain.

The information received also indicates that the Myanmar security forces targeted teachers, cultural and religious leadership, and other people of influence of the Rohingya community to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge.