The deployment of extra troops to Myanmar's troubled Rakhine state is to further the "Rohingya genocide", according to a group representing the Muslim minority yesterday. The army dispatched a battalion, around 500 soldiers, to the Maungdaw area of northern Rakhine, where Rohingya Muslims form the majority, last Thursday.
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." He said the deployment was designed to establish a permanent military presence in Rakhine as well as "the advancement of Rohingya genocide."
In emailed comments to Anadolu Agency, he added: "The advancement of Rohingya genocide is the primary goal of the army. The instability in Rakhine state is used as an excuse for the heavy and permanent presence of the army in Rakhine state." Rising tensions were exacerbated by the killing of seven villagers in the Maungdaw area late last month. The government blamed "extremists" for the killings and said it had found "terrorist hideouts" in the state's northern May Yu mountains. However, Kyaw said the killings were a pretext created by "high-level military intelligence," citing unspecified sources. "First, the military intelligence created a pretext or problems," he said. "Then the state propaganda media spread rumors that the Rohingya are involved in the killing[s]… without any evidence or proper investigation." Tens of thousands of Rohingya have sheltered in refugee camps in Rakhine since communal violence flared in mid-2012. The state is home to around 1.2 million Rohingya, who have long been officially labelled "Bengali" - a term suggesting they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Despite having lived in the area for generations, Rohingya have been effectively denied citizenship by a 1982 nationality law and have restricted basic rights such as freedom of movement. Last month, the World Food Program said nearly 226,000 Rohingya were on the brink of starvation. Its report said nearly a third of the population in northern Rakhine were identified as severely food-insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance. Among them were an estimated 80,500 children under the age of five.