Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Rohingya Tragedy Continues

Myanmar/Burma's Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing international pressure over recent reports that soldiers have been killing, raping and burning homes of the country's long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims. According to Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, an advocacy group that focuses on the Rohingya, the government does not seem to have any influence over the military." Burma's constitution was designed to retain the armed forces power and independence. [see here]

Satellite photographs released by Human Rights Watch shows that at least three villages in the western state of Rakhine have been burned. The current crackdown has prompted an estimated 15,000 people in the Rakhine area to flee their homes in the past few weeks. People report food supplies are growing scarce as they are living under siege. Families in Rakhine depend largely on humanitarian aid for food and health care, but that support has been cut off for weeks by officials who will not allow outsiders into the region.

The UN's special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Yanghee Lee, said serious violations, including torture, summary executions, arbitrary arrests and destruction of mosques and homes, threaten the country's fledgling democracy.

US Ambassador Scot Marciel has urged Burma's Foreign Ministry to investigate the allegations of attacks and restore access for humanitarian groups trying to help.

Although they've lived in Burma for generations, Rohingya are barred from citizenship in the nation of 50 million, and instead live as some of the most oppressed people in the world. Since communal violence broke out in 2012, more than 100,000 people have been driven from their homes to live in squalid camps guarded by police. Some have tried to flee but many end up becoming victims of human trafficking.  

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