THE IRRAWADDY (Burma), HRW(USA), RADIO AUSTRALIA
RANGOON – A new report by NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) published on Monday says there is evidence of government complicity in crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing against Burma’s Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority.
Since June 2012, more than 220 people have died in sectarian fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma, with most of deaths in Arakan State, in western Burma, where most of the country’s estimated 800,000 ethnic Rohingya live, reports The Irrawaddy.
More than 125,000 Rohingya people have been displaced since the fighting erupted last year.
The HRW 153-page report, “‘All You Can Do is Pray’: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State,” describes the role of the Burmese government in the ethnic violence, accusing officials, community leaders and Buddhist monks of organizing, encouraging and backing the ethnic Arakanese, who “coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population.”
According to the report, government authorities destroyed mosques, conducted mass arrests and blocked humanitarian aid to displaced Rohingya people. HRW also said it had found four mass-grave sites in another state plagued by ethnic violence, Rakhine state.
Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, told Radio Australia the name of the report "All You Can do is Pray" was “actually something that a Burmese army soldier said to a Muslim who was pleading with him to protect their communities, they were being attacked by an Arkanese mob.”
The Burmese government is expected to publish its own findings on the ethnic violence on Tuesday, but the report has already been delayed four times.
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Map of Burma states. Wikimedia.