Burmese forces accused of rapes and killings
Burmese security forces killed, raped or carried out mass arrests of Rohingya Muslims after deadly sectarian riots in June, a rights group has said, adding that the authorities did little to prevent the initial unrest.
Aid workers were blocked and in some cases arrested, and Rohingyas bore the brunt of a government crackdown in Rakhine state after a week of arson and machete attacks by both ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingyas, said New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Based on 57 interviews with Rakhines and Rohingyas, its report seeks to shed light on a conflict that exposed deep-rooted animosity and to put the spotlight on promises by the civilian government to protect human rights after decades of brutal army rule.
“Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan [Rakhine] and Rohingya from each other, and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass round-ups against the Rohingya,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government claims it is committed to ending ethnic strife and abuse, but recent events in Arakan state demonstrate that state-sponsored persecution and discrimination persist.”
Foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin said on Monday that the authorities had exercised “maximum restraint” in restoring law and order, and the rioting was not fuelled by religious persecution.
There are at least 800,000 Rohingyas in Burma but they are not recognised by the government as one of its ethnic groups.
The riots followed two brutal incidents in Rakhine state: the 28 May rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by three Rohingya males, who were sentenced to death; and the 3 June lynching in response of ten non-Rohingya Muslims on a bus.
Human Rights Watch said police and troops did not intervene to stop the mobs from beating the Muslims to death.
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