Burma's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected a decision by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of crimes by security forces against the country's minority Rohingya Muslims. The UN body agreed in March to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Burma over claims of systematic murder, rape and torture in Rakhine state. "We do not agree with it," Suu Kyi told a press conference during a visit to Brussels May 2. "We have disassociated ourselves from the resolution because we do not think that the resolution is in keeping with what is actually happening on the ground." (The Telegraph, May 3; NYT, March 24)
According to official John McKissick at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Nov. 24, members of the Rohingya community have been subjected to numerous atrocities by troops in Burma, including execution, rape, starvation and forced displacement. McKissick said the widespread violence is part of an ongoing effort by the Burmese government to "ethnically cleanse" the Muslim minority group from the country. Speaking to the BBC from the UNHCR headquarters in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, McKissick said the latest increase in violence against the Rohingya is in response to the murder of nine border guards in Burma on Oct. 9, which some Burmese politicians have blamed on a Rohingya militant group.
Towns and villages across large areas of Burma's northern Rakhine state are reported to be deserted, as terrified residents flee a new military crackdown following attacks by supposed Muslim Rohingya militants. At least 26 have been killed in the military raids, and at least hundreds displaced. Villages are said to be in flames. The military action follows attacks on three border posts along the frontier with Bangladesh Oct. 9 that authorities blamed on a previously unknown "Aqa Mul Mujahidin," said to be successor group to the supposedly disbanded Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO). The border attacks, centered on Maungdaw township, left 39 dead—nine police, four soldiers and 26 suspected militants. (Channel News Asia, Channel News Asia, Anadolu Agency, Oct. 14)
Bangladesh executed a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party on Sept. 3 for war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence. Mir Quasem Ali was accused of murder, confinement, torture, and inciting religious hatred. In all, five leaders of the party have been executed for war crimes in the country in recent years. Ali was arrested in 2010 and convicted of eight charges in 2014. He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh (ICTB) and the sentence was upheld by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court in March. UN humans rights experts urged the government of Bangladesh to repeal the death sentence imposed on Ali for failing to meet international standards on fair trial and due process for the imposition of the death penalty.
The International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) on Auig. 10 sentenced (PDF) a former member of parliament to death and seven others to life in prison for crimes committed during the 1971 war for independence. Sakhawat Hossain, a former lawmaker and member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was accused of commanding a group that aided Pakistani soldiers. His lawyers have said they plan to appeal. One of the other defendants was present in court along with Hossain, and the remaining six defendants were tried and convicted in absentia.
Twenty people, mostly foreigners, were killed in an attack on a cafe in Dhaka that was claimed by the Bangladesh affiliate of the ISIS franchise. Government troops stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in an upscale district of the capital 12 hours after it was seized by jihadist gunmen. Accounts are unclear if hostages were killed in the rescue operation, but at least some were apparently hacked to death by their captors—the favored method of jihadists in Bangladesh. Local media reported the gunmen tortured anyone who was unable to recite the Koran. After all this, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had the temerity to say: "It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these people? They don't have any religion." (BBC News, BBC News, NYT)
Authorities in Bangladesh detained approximately 1,600 people June 10-11 in an effort to hunt down radical Islamist militants. Police suspect only 37 of the detainees are more than petty criminals, none of whom are believed to be "high-level operators." The raids were a response to multiple attacks in Bangladesh over the last few years, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has faced criticism regarding security for minorities and failure to prosecute suspects. Victims include atheist journalists, foreign aid workers, professors, gay rights activists and religious minorities including Christians, Hindus and Shi'ite Muslims. Amnesty International has also criticized the government for failing to provide adequate protection. Political parties in the country meanwhile expressed concern that the government would use the campaign to suppress opposition.
Bangladesh authorities on May 11 executed Motiur Rahman Nizami for war crimes during the the 1971 war of independence. Nizami, a leader of the banned political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was convicted for crimes including rape and genocide, and is the fifth JI leader to be executed. Party leaders called on their followers to strike as a sign of opposition to the hanging. There has been international criticism of the Bangladesh tribunals, while the government claims they are necessary for the healing process to continue. The parliament of Pakistan has officially condemned the hanging of Nizami.