World, Asia - Pacific

Rohingya refugees mark 1 year since brutal crackdown

Rohingya protest for international protection in Myanmar and justice for massacres of Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya refugees mark 1 year since brutal crackdown FILE PHOTO

By Mutasim Billah

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh

The Rohingya -- the world’s most persecuted and displaced Muslim minority people -- on Saturday demonstrated in Bangladesh refugee camps demanding justice for the "genocide" carried out by the Myanmar government and military since this time last year.

Signs held by protestors demanded that the UN and International Criminal Court hold Myanmar’s government accountable for the massacres, atrocities, rape, and property destruction it committed against innocent Rohingya women, children and men in Rakhine state, just across the border from Bangladesh.

Thousands of Rohingya who fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh chanted such slogans as “No more genocide,” “We want justice, we want our rights back,” “Refugee life no more,” “Stop killing Rohingya,” and “International protection in Myanmar homeland.”

They also criticized the false claim by Myanmar’s government that the Rohingya are not native to Myanmar but instead illegally immigrated from Bangladesh.

Another target of the protests was the proposed National Verification Cards (NVC), which Rohingya say are a ploy by Myanmar to deny the Rohingya citizenship.

On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing almost 24,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others to flee to Bangladesh, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

In its recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, the OIDA increased the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (±881) from an earlier Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by the Myanmar army and police. More than 115,000 Rohingya houses were burned and 113,000 others were vandalized, it added.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In its report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

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