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Myanmar engaged in systematic attacks against Rohingya says US Holocaust Memorial Museum report

Myanmar has engaged in crimes against humanity as well as fostering “long-standing discrimination against the Rohingya population” whilst “ensuring impunity for perpetrators”, a joint report by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide and Fortify Rights concluded.

The report details how the army and police alongside armed civilians “razed villages”, “killed men, women and children”, “raped and gang-raped Rohingya women and girls”, and illegally detained “masses of Rohingya men and boys”, many of whom remain missing.

The report also noted that within October and November 2016, the army alongside armed civilians engage in a “clearance operation” seemingly provoked by ARSA attacks on military outposts.

Fortify Right’s interviews show that 51 Rohingya men and women from 16 villages in Maungdaw Township “directly witnessed soldiers carry out arson attacks during the […] clearance operations” resulting in the burning 15 mosques.

In seven villages, 17 people reported being witnesses to rape; soldiers were reported to have gang-raped women “often in plain view of other soldiers and civilians”. Their report also highlights the continued detention of civilians with over 120,000 Rohingya currently living in 38 internment camps.

Since October 2016, the military assault led by the Myanmar army has forced an approximate 700,000 Rohingya into displacement with the majority seeking asylum in Bangladesh. This meant an evacuation of more than half of the entire population in northern Rakhine State; “the fastest-growing out-grow of refugees from a country since the Rwandan genocide”.


Myanmar’s Response

Myanmar has persistently refused to acknowledge these accusations stating that allegations were “rumours”, “fabricated stories”, and “one-sided accusations”.

From October 2016 to March 2017, Myanmar authorities “halted visits by international monitors and humanitarian workers to places of detention in Rakhine State” creating a media blackout. This followed the initial establishment by the UN of a fact-finding mission in October 2016 that sought to investigate allegations of human rights abuse.

This continued silence over these human rights violations led the UN Security Council to announce the implementation of “several measures and possible sanctions against the Myanmar military”, in October 2017.

Myanmar's leader has cast the Rohingya community as a threat, as “unwanted Bengali foreigners” and posing an “existential threat to Buddhist culture”.

In 1982 Myanmar passed a citizenship law which denied Rohingya a claim to citizenship; this law has not been revoked.


Report recommendations

In their report the groups call upon Myanmar to cease its attacks and to cooperate with international efforts, including a fact-finding mission. They further ask the state to implement recommendations from international bodies which will include holding those responsible to account and amending the 1982 citizenship law to endow all with equality citizenship and rights.

They also turn to the international community to condemn the on-going atrocities and to demand unfettered access for the UN-mandated fact-finding mission. They further recommend establishing targeted sanctions on individuals and instituting an arms embargo.

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