Rohingya rights violations continue in Myanmar

World‘Reasonable grounds’ to believe genocide committed against Rohingyas report finds

The Fortify Rights report suggests an alternate storyline to the suggestion that the military-led atrocities, which were often abetted by ethnic Rakhine locals armed with swords, were exclusively a response to attacks by Rohingya militants on army and police posts on August 25, 2017.

A 162-page report titled "They Gave Them Long Swords: Preparations for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar", details a campaign of violence by Myanmar forces targeting the Rohingya, including killings, torture, rape, and village burnings in three northern townships, in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25, 2017.

Zaw Htay said that the Myanmar government would be forming an "investigation team, which will include internationally well-respected persons to investigate the human rights violations in Rakhine".

"When the global community failed to effectively respond to these attacks, Myanmar authorities made preparations to commit another attack that extended through all three townships of Rakhine - Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung", the group's statement read.

Fortify echoed calls by other organisations for the UN Security Council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court, singling out 22 military and police officials as responsible, including armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Rohingya militants provided an opportunity for attack when they conducted a series of coordinated strikes on border police outposts in August past year, claiming the lives of 12 security personnel.

"There is no genocide and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar", said Zaw Htay, a government spokesman.

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"So long as impunity continues, we're likely to see more atrocities".

Rohingya people are shown sitting near their makeshift house in Maungdaw township, Rakhine State, western Myanmar, earlier this year. Coordinated attacks on border police by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) were answered with a counter-insurgency campaign that prompted an estimated 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. The violence claimed 6,700 lives in its first month, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières.

The report documents how Myanmar authorities committed mass killings, rape, and arson attacks against the Rohingya in Maungdaw township in October and November 2016. "The world can't sit idly by and watch another genocide unfold, but right now, that's exactly what's happening".

The government and military have defended the "clearance operations" as a counterinsurgency against ARSA terrorists and have consistently denied that security forces committed most of the atrocities against the Rohingya, despite widespread reports and credible evidence, including multiple satellite images of burned-out villages.

Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late United States attorney general Robert F Kennedy, and president of a rights advocacy organisation that bears his name, concluded visits to Myanmar and Bangladesh with a high-level delegation this week.

The UN and the USA have called Myanmar military action against Rohingya civilians "a textbook case of ethnic cleansing" - a charge the Myanmar government has repeatedly denied.

The Guardian was unable to reach government spokesperson Zaw Htay or military representatives Maj Gen Aye Lwin and Maj Gen Soe Naing Oo by phone, despite repeated attempts. He did not answer further calls.

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