Thousands evacuated as Rakhine burns

"The Myanmar government has not moved quickly or decisively enough to remedy the deep, years-long policy failures that are leading some Muslims in Rakhine State to take up violence", said the report, released on Saturday.

Following the attack on Friday, the army declared war against "terrorism" killing many and besieging townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung, a home to almost 800,000 people, imposing a curfew in the area from 6 pm to 6 am. "As Myanmar refuses to acknowledge Rohingya Muslims as citizens, it becomes impossible for the Indian government to deport them there, making the advisory infructuous".

It's clear that the Myanmar security forces don't care two hoots about respecting the rule of law and protecting human rights and the fundamental freedom of civilians, even if it has to curb attacks from militants.

The clashes were deadlier than an attack by the militants on three border posts last October that killed nine policemen and set off months of brutal counterinsurgency operations by Myanmar security forces against Rohingya communities in Rakhine state.

The following year, hundreds of people, a lot of them Rohingya, were killed in communal clashes in Rakhine state and about 140,000 people were displaced. "The main objective is to ensure Myanmar can't accuse us of harbouring them to use against them", said the official.

It pointed towards the "extreme discrimination" towards the group, as well as the erosion of rights in relation to obtaining citizenship documents and the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya before the 2015 general election. "If they are not allowed in they will die", she said.

Mohammad Nur, a Rohingya leader at an unregistered camp in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, told The Associated Press by phone that he had heard that some 100,000 Rohingya had gathered along the border to try to enter Bangladesh, but the number could not be confirmed.

Thousands of Rohingya have fled towards Bangladesh, but authorities there have refused to let a lot of them in, with an untold number of people - mainly women and children - stranded along the border zone.

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There are also eyewitness accounts from Maungdaw, saying that the Myanmar military have entered villages and are burning homes and properties and shooting people dead.

Francis has regularly spoken out in defence of the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim group in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.

Facing claims of crimes against humanity for army attacks on the minority Muslim Rohingya population, Suu Kyi's administration has sought to severely restrict access to Rakhine for aid groups and the media while publicly discrediting them.

About 10 percent of the world's stateless people live in Myanmar and Rohingyas make up the single largest stateless community in the world.

Thousands of Rohingya have tried to flee into Bangladesh, but Bangladeshi border guards are reportedly turning them back.

The Burmese army has been accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings of Rohingya Muslims in response to clashes with insurgents. Arsa took advantage of the resentment by stepping up recruitment of members.

Such attacks deserve to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

  • Stacy Houston