Security forces target Rohingya during vicious Myanmar scorched-earth campaign

| Updated: Dec 19, 2016 22:51 IST

London [United Kingdom], Dec. 19 (ANI): New York based human rights watchdog Amnesty International has squarely blamed the Myanmar security forces for unlawful killings, multiple rapes and the burning down entire villages inhabited by Rohingyas. In a new report released today, based on extensive interviews with Rohingyas both in Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as an analysis of satellite imagery and photos and videos, Amnesty shows dozens of people have also been arbitrarily arrested during the military's vicious and disproportionate security campaign in Rakhine State over the past two months. "The Myanmar military has targeted Rohingya civilians in a callous and systematic campaign of violence. Men, women, children, whole families and entire villages have been attacked and abused, as a form of collective punishment," said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International's Director for South-Eats Asia and the Pacific. "The deplorable actions of the military could be part of a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population and may amount to crimes against humanity. We are worried that the horrific tales of violations we have uncovered are just the tip of the iceberg, he added. "While the military is directly responsible for the violations, Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to live up to both her political and moral responsibility to try to stop or condemn what is unfolding in the Rakhine state," said Djamin. Amnesty International's research reveals how the military campaign has gone far beyond what could be considered a proportional response to a security threat. Multiple eyewitnesses described how soldiers entered their villages, fired randomly at - and killed - villagers, women, men and children. In at least one instance, soldiers dragged people out of their houses and shot them dead. Amnesty International has not been able to determine the true death toll. Myanmar state media has reported that at least six people have died in custody since the military operation began, raising serious concerns of torture in detention. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have poured across the border to Bangladesh over the last two months in search of safety. The exact number of refugees is impossible to determine, but the UN estimates it to be at least 27,000. In response to the influx, Bangladesh has strengthened its long-standing policy of sealing the border to Myanmar, and detained and pushed back thousands who have tried to flee. This is unlawful under international law as it violates the principle of non-refoulement - which absolutely prohibits forcibly returning people to a country or place where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations. The threat of arrest and deportation has meant that fleeing Rohingya have been forced into hiding in camps, villages and forests across south-eastern Bangladesh. They live in miserable conditions as the government has imposed severe limits on aid to avoid a "pull factor."(ANI)