Aid workers say the Rohingya crisis at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border is now one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.
Al Jazeera's Maher Sattar reports from Shah Porir Dwip in southeast Bangladesh.
September 5, 2017
On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar Military bombed 25 Rohingya villages reportedly using six gunship helicopters, navy ships and tanks as Rohingya families slept. Reports indicated that soldiers have been shooting at fleeing Rohingya civilians. This has clearly been an effort to sabotage the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan report's recommendations for peaceful coexistence, which was released only hours before. Now over 120,000 Rohingya have fled their ruined villages into Bangladesh, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of displaced families with no access to food or humanitarian relief.
We the undersigned organizations call on the US Secretary of State to demand that the Burmese Government immediately de-escalate and withdraw its armed forces from the Rohingya areas of Rakhine State and arrest those engaged in firing on civilians and raping women; and ask Bangladesh to accept and assist Rohingya refugees crossing its border. In Congress, and through the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, the United States should continue to publicly endorse the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Commission recommendations and not let this vision of peace and coexistence be forgotten by either the public or policymakers.
For the weeks, the Myanmar military has been building its troops in Rohingya areas. Together with the UN, the US Congress, advocacy groups such as Human Rights Watch and Burma Task Force, Pope Francis and leaders around the world have been calling for the Myanmar military to stand down to avoid violence.
We join with such voices to call on the Myanmar government to rein in the Myanmar military, which has been working to empower Rakhine Buddhist extremists. Reports indicate the army has been arming these extremist militias to further escalate an extremely dangerous situation.
The Myanmar military claims Rohingya "insurgents" are being killed, along with soldiers. However, the military has again and again demonstrated that it does not distinguish between civilians and insurgents. The Myanmar government refuses to allow a UN investigative team into Myanmar to follow up on the many allegations of atrocities that took place in 2016.
The Myanmar government has consistently ignored international pressure to return rights to the Rohingya minority. Despite Aung San Suu Kyi serving as a figurehead, the Bamar-dominated military clearly still controls the government, with an extremist ideology that prevents peace not only with the Rohingya but with many other ethnic groups in Shan, Kachin, Mon & other states.
Burmese Muslim American Association (BAMA)
Burma Task Force USA (18 Muslim organizations. See the list below)
Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy (CENTHRA)
Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University (I-GMAP)
Interfaith Center of New York
Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma
Kalamazoo Islamic Center
Labor Religion Alliance
Maghrib Institute- Nurayn
Pax Christi USA (Catholic)
Pax Christi Maine
Pax Christi Metro New York
Pax Christi Metro DC/Baltimore.
Rohingya Culture Center (RCC), Chicago
Rohingya American Society (RAS, Wisconsin)
South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship & Training (SAFEST)
South Asian Solidarity Foundation
Turning Point for Women and Families
US Campaign for Burma
World Rohingya Organization (WRO)
Burma Task Force USA organizational membership:
Burmese Rohingya Association of North America
Free Rohingya Campaign
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA NY & Canada)
Islamic Council of New England (ICNE)
Islamic Organization of North America (IONA)
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Justice For All
Majlis Shura of Atlanta
Michigan Muslim Community Council
Muslim American Society (MAS)
Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA)
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA)
Muslim Leadership Council of New York
Muslim Peace Coalition
Myanmar's treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority appears to be a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing, the top UN human rights official has said.
In an address to the United Nations human rights council in Geneva, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein denounced the "brutal security operation" against the Rohingya in Rakhine state, which he said was "clearly disproportionate" to insurgent attacks carried out last month.
More than 310,000 people have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, with more trapped on the border, amid reports of the burning of villages and extrajudicial killings.
"I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation, with accountability for all violations that have occurred, and to reverse the pattern of severe and widespread discrimination against the Rohingya population," Zeid said.
"The situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
On Sunday Bangladesh's foreign minister accused the Burmese government of committing genocide against the Rohingya. Analysts said that AH Mahmood Ali's language was the strongest yet from Myanmar's neighbour, and reflected intense frustration in Dhaka at the continuing influx of desperate Rohingya refugees.
Over the weekend the Dalai Lama became the latest Nobel peace prize laureate to speak out about the crisis, telling the Burmese forces involved in attacks on the ethnic Muslim minority to "remember Buddha".
Ali told diplomats on Sunday that unofficial sources had put the Rohingya death toll from the latest unrest in Rakhine at about 3,000.
The violence was triggered on 25 August when a Rohingya militant group attacked more than a dozen security sites and killed 12 people.
Militia groups, local security forces and the Burmese army responded with "clearance operations" that have forced refugees into Bangladesh and left tens of thousands more displaced inside the state.
"The international community is saying it is a genocide. We also say it is a genocide," Ali told reporters in Dhaka.
He said the influx of refugees in the past month took the total number of Rohingya in Bangladesh to more than 700,000. "It is now a national problem," he said.
Ali said about 10,000 homes had been burned in Rakhine state, a figure that cannot be verified as Myanmar has restricted independent access to the state.
Scores of refugees in Bangladesh have given accounts of arson by Burmese security forces. On Sunday Human Rights Watch said that satellite analysis had shown evidence of fire damage in urban areas populated by Rohingyas as well as in isolated villages.
Myanmar says it is targeting armed insurgents, including fighters from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa), the group which claimed responsibility for the August attacks and reportedly controls small areas of Rakhine.
Arsa, which has been accused of carrying out attacks against Buddhist and Hindu civilians, called for a month-long "humanitarian pause" on Sunday to deal with the refugee crisis. The truce was dismissed by Myanmar authorities, which said they did not negotiate with "terrorists".
The International Organisation for Migration estimated about 313,000 Rohingya had crossed into Bangladesh by Monday, noting that the influx appeared to be slowing. Many new arrivals were on the move inside Bangladesh and could not be counted, it added.
Rohingya have been systematically persecuted for decades by the Burmese government which, contrary to historical evidence, regards them as illegal migrants from Bangladesh and restricts their citizenship rights and access to government services.
Earlier security operations have been described as possible "crimes against humanity" by the United Nations, but the scale of the latest violence – and allegations that Burmese forces are mining the border – have led to speculation the military is trying remove Rohingya from the country for good.
The Dalai Lama spoke about the crisis for the first time on Friday. "Those people who are sort of harassing some Muslims, they should remember Buddha," he told journalists. "He would definitely give help to those poor Muslims. So still I feel that. So very sad."
Myanmar's population is overwhelmingly Buddhist and there is widespread hatred for the Rohingya. Buddhist nationalists, led by firebrand monks, have operated a long Islamophobic campaign calling for them to be pushed out of the country.
Myanmar's de facto civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been condemned for her refusal to intervene in support of the Rohingya.
Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report
When the military and its Rakhine militia commit savagery in its worst form by hacking or beating to death, burning alive, shooting dead, Mass-killing, etc., Daw Aung San Suu Kyi covers up the atrocities and protects those criminals saying that there are 'misinformation' being spread in media. This stand of hers aggravated the situation and this shows how the two major partners share an ethnic-cleansing coordinately.
This is a video taken by some Bangladeshi locals helping refugees in Naf River. Without description, the video itself is talking how mercilessly the lives of the people in the video taken. For more video, visit our Eyewitness playlists on YouTube.
After all these, Let the State Counsellor Office Information Committee or the government spokesperson Zaw Htay lie that those people have suicided, as they usually lie that 'Rohingya burned their own homes'. Where is Suu Kyi's fake news?
The following picture is of another incident.
Najib also said a reconnaissance team would arrive in Dhaka on Monday consisting of diplomats and military officers to identify further assistance needed by the Rohingya.
Malaysia's armed forces chief said on Saturday that Kuala Lumpur would provide a 200-bed military field hospital in Bangladesh if the government there granted permission.
Describing Myanmar's inaction to halt the violence against innocent civilians as "rather disappointing", Najib said he will raise the Rohingya humanitarian tragedy with President Donald Trump on Sep 12 during his official visit to the White House.
"We have to help because the Rohingya tragedy has reached terrible proportions," he said.
On Friday, the powerful youth wing of Najib's dominant Malaysia's ruling party led a noisy street protest urging Kuala Lumpur to sever diplomatic ties with Yangon.
Malaysia on Tuesday summoned the Myanmar ambassador to voice its "deep concern" over the situation in Rakhine state, where witnesses said entire villages have been burned.
Over 1,000 people - more than twice the government's total estimate - may already have been killed in Rakhine, mostly Rohingya, said Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.
As of June this year, there are 59,100 Rohingya refugees registered with the UN Refugee Agency in Malaysia.
Rohingya children have been beheaded and civilians burned alive, according to witness testimony amid claims that Burma's military and paramilitary forces are committing "genocide" or a "pogrom" against the Muslim minority in the country's western Rakhine state.
Around 60,000 refugees are believed to have fled over the country's western border into Bangladesh in a just a week following a clampdown on Rohingya militants.
The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, called for the violence to end, saying the treatment of the Rohingya was "besmirching the reputation of Burma", also known as Myanmar, and appealing to Aung San Suu Kyi to act.
Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has gone much further, accusing Burma's forces of genocide and saying those who turned a blind eye to events were complicit.
Observers believe the number of displaced people is likely to increase. The Burmese military said 400 militants had been killed in clashes with their forces.
Civilians who escaped gave horrific accounts of violence and destruction by Burmese soldiers and other armed groups.
A man named as Abdul Rahman, 41, said he had survived a five-hour attack on Chut Pyin village.
He told Fortifiy Rights, a charity working in the area, that a group of Rohingya men had been rounded up and detained in a bamboo hut, which was then set on fire.
"My brother was killed — [Burmese soldiers] burned him with the group," he said.
"We found [my other family members] in the fields. They had marks on their bodies from bullets and some had cuts.
"My two nephews, their heads were off. One was six years old and the other was nine years old. My sister-in-law was shot with a gun."
Another man from the same village, named as Sultan Ahmed, 27, told the charity: "Some people were beheaded, and many were cut. We were in the house hiding when [armed residents from a neighbouring village] were beheading people.
Survivors from other villages in the region also described seeing people being beheaded or having their throats cut.
"We can't stress enough the urgency of the situation," said Matthew Smith, head of Fortify Rights.
"The Myanmar authorities are failing to protect civilians and save lives. International pressure is critically needed."
Satellite imagery released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) showed 700 buildings burned down in another Rohingya village, Chein Khar Li.
"This new satellite imagery shows the total destruction of a Muslim village, and prompts serious concerns that the level of devastation in northern Rakhine State may be far worse than originally thought," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for HRW.
"Yet this is only one of 17 sites that we've located where burnings have taken place. Independent monitors are needed on the ground to urgently uncover what's going on."
The Burmese government has denied access to the affected areas to journalists and observers.
On Saturday, Mr Johnson, appealed to Aung San Suu Kyi, the former dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize and is now the country's State Counsellor, to intervene.
"Aung Sang Suu Kyi is rightly regarded as one of the most inspiring figures of our age but the treatment of the Rohingya is alas besmirching the reputation of Burma. She faces huge challenges in modernising her country," he said.
"I hope she can now use all her remarkable qualities to unite her country, to stop the violence and to end the prejudice that afflicts both Muslims and other communities in Rakhine.
"It is vital that she receives the support of the Burmese military, and that her attempts at peacemaking are not frustrated. She and all in Burma will have our full support in this."