Thousands of Rohingya trapped on borderlands

Satellite data released by Human Rights Watch shows widespread fires burning in at least 10 areas of Burma's Rakhine state, following a new military offensive targeting the country's Rohingya people. Burmese authorities say some 100 have been killed since Aug. 25, when supposed militants of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched pre-dawn raids on police outposts. The army has responded with a massive operation to encircle the Rohingya rebels and block their escape into Bangladesh. But troops are accused of putting whole villages to the torch and carrying out extrajudicial killings. More than 8,700 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh since since the offensive was launched, but at least 4,000 more are stranded in the no man's land between the two countries near Taung Bro village. Temporary shelters now fill a narrow strip between the Naf River and Burma's border fence.

Bangladesh is already host to more than 400,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled Burma since the early 1990s. Bangladesh has called on the UN to pressure Burma over its treatment of the Rohingya, insisting it cannot accept any more.

In a video statement last October, the ARSA demanded international action to protect the Muslim Rohingya people from "genocide" being carried out by the Burmese armed forces and "Buddhist extremists." (Al Jazeera, AFP, Aug. 30; RFA, Reuters, UN News Centre, Aug. 29; Reuters, Mizzima, Aug. 26)

  1. Burmese army: Rohingya attack Hindus

    Burma's army said Sept. 24 it had discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of 28 Hindus, including women and children, in violence-wracked Rakhine state, blaming the killings on Rohingya militants. "Security members found and dug up 28 dead bodies of Hindus who were cruelly and violently killed by ARSA extremist Bengali terrorists in Rakhine State," a statement posted on the army chief's website said.

    Some 30,000 Hindus have fled villages where they once lived alongside Muslims, apparently targeted by Rohingya militants. Nearly 390,00) Rohingya refugees have fled for sanctuary in Bangladesh. (CNA, Sept. 24; AFP, Sept. 15)

  2. UN rights chief cannot rule out genocide in Burma

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Dec. 5 said that he could not rule out that genocide is occurring in Burma against the Rohingya minority. In statements to a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner stated that whether elements of genocide are present "is a legal determination only a competent court can make… but the concerns are extremely serious, and clearly call for access to be immediately granted for further verification."

    Zeid said that witnesses have reported acts of "deliberately burning people to death inside their homes; murders of children and adults; indiscriminate shooting of fleeing civilians; widespread rapes of women and girls; and the burning and destruction of houses, schools, markets and mosques." (Jurist)