Myanmar's military, accused of massive human rights violations against the Muslim Rohingya minority, is committing war crimes and other atrocities as it engages in new military operations in the western Rakhine State, a London-based human rights group said yesterday.
Amnesty International said in a new report, "No one can protect us: War crimes and abuses in Myanmar's Rakhine State," that it had "new evidence" that Myanmar's military is now "committing war crimes and other human rights violations" against the ethnic Rakhine, listing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and enforced disappearances. Access to the conflict area is heavily restricted but details of civilian deaths have emerged over recent weeks and months. But the army has confirmed it shot dead six detainees late last month in the village of Kyauk Tan. Amnesty International's report is based on scores of interviews with people from various ethnic groups, photographs, videos and satellite imagery. It documents seven unlawful attacks that killed 14 civilians and injured dozens more, saying notorious infantry units have been deployed against the ethnic Rakhine. Some Rohingya Muslims who have remained in the area have also been killed.
The Myanmar government has long been blamed for genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya community in western Rakhine State. The huge exodus of Rohingya began in August 2017 after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts. The scale, organization and ferocity of the operation led to accusations from the international community, including the U.N., of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority in the world according to U.N. figures and continue to suffer from oppression under the Myanmar government, the army and Buddhist extremists. Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya have been killed since violence broke out in 2008, causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homeland for Bangladesh, Malaysia and other countries in the region. At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine State from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, 2017, according to Doctors without Borders (MSF). In a report last December, the global humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7%, or 6,700 Rohingya, were caused by violence. The death toll includes 730 children below the age of 5.
Amid reports of fresh abuses and civilian killings, Myanmar's military has lavished tens of millions of dollars on the latest lethal hardware, leaning on allies as part of a strategy to become a first-class fighting force. The spending spree comes despite enduring EU and U.S. arms embargoes and calls earlier this month from a U.N. fact-finding mission for the international community to sever financial ties to Myanmar's military.
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