Myanmar deploys more troops to Rohingya

The Rohingya are widely reviled as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, despite having lived in the area for generations

Myanmar deploys more troops to restive Rohingya area

A Rohingya activist group expressed concern over the Myanmar's government’s denial that security forces had committed crimes against humanity during a crackdown in the western Rakhine state. The newly-formed Rohingya Consultative Body said that the commission’s denial to the widely documented human rights violations against the Rohingya was expected as the government has previously rebuffed the allegations. The report of the commission led by vice-president Myint Swe, who is one of the former junta senior leaders, failed to influence anyone in the international community.

Myanmars’ governemet is imposing new curfews and deploying more troops to the Rakhine state after the United Nations expressed concerns at reports of a military build-up in the region where authorities are accused of widespread rights abuse. Hla Kyaw, chairman of the European Rohingya Council, said the troops were from the 33rd Light Infantry Division, which he described as "the most notorious military unit when it comes to the serious violation of human rights against ethnic communities". A senior border guard said the deployment was ordered to protect other ethnic groups in the remote area.

“We deployed more troops to Rakhine”, Defense Minister Lieutenant General Sein Win declared, though he did not specify the number of soldiers assigned to the area. “We are doing this so that ethnic people can live in peace and security”, Win affirmed.

Tensions have been rising since late July when seven Buddhists were found hacked to death in the mountains near the township of Maungdaw in northern Rakhine. But the Myanmar government has blocked three UN-appointed experts from investigating the atrocities, prompting human rights groups to accuse it of covering up crimes against humanity.

State media has said “clearance operations are being heightened” in Rakhine’s May Yu mountain range, an area where the government says Rohingya militants remain active; The army used the same language to describe counter-insurgency sweeps in October.

“Plans are underway to reinforce security forces and military forces by deployment of additional troops”, the state-run Global New Light of Mynamar said, adding that curfews would be imposed in “necessary areas”. It said the goal was to “prevent extremist terrorists from taking a stronghold in the May Yu mountain range”.

The Muslim Rohingya, are not recognized as an ethnic nationality of Myanmar, so they suffer from, arguably, one of the worst discrimination and human rights abuse of all. The Rohingya population is somewhere between one and two million and they are living mainly in Rakhine State in the northern part of the country. In 2012, the capital of Rakhine state, Sittwe, saw a wave of violence in which hundreds of Rohingya were killed and tens of thousands forced to leave their homes and move to camps. The government restricts their movement, ability to marry, and access to education and healthcare.

 

Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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