The United Nations stated on March 5, 2018 that the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state continues even today.
The alleged atrocities committed against the members of this minority community by the Myanmar military has been in the talks ever since over700,000 Rohingyas including many women and children fled the area to seek refuge in neighbouring nations such as Bangladesh.
The United Nations and several human rights organisations across the world have repeatedly criticised Myanmar’s action against the Rohingya community. The Myanmar military’s campaign against the Rohingya is reported to have begun in northern Rakhine following a coordinated assault by the Rohingya insurgent movement on August 25, 2017.
The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour said that while the level of violence had been reduced, murder, rape, torture, abductions as well as forced starvation continued. "It appears that widespread and systematic violence against the Rohingya persists," he stated after visiting the refugee camps set up for the Rohingyas in Bangladesh.
Gilmour stated that the nature of violence has changed in Rakhine from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of last year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation, which seems to be designed to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh.
With this, the UN Human Rights expert also questioned Myanmar government’s preparedness to enable a safe return of the Rohingya refugees to Rakhine and argued that safe, dignified and sustainable returns seem impossible under current conditions.
On the other hand, Gilmour praised the humanitarian response of Bangladesh and other international organisations to the Rohingya refugee crisis but warned that the rainy season could leave "a devastating effect" on the refugee camps.
• Bangladesh and Myanmar had previously signed an agreement to start the repatriation process of the Rohingya refugees at the end of January 2018 but, the deal was suspended at the last minute by the Bangladesh government.
• India had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Myanmar on December 20, 2017 to develop Rakhine state in order to restore normalcy to the region and enable the safe return of the displaced Rohingya community.
• Despite worldwide criticism, the Myanmar Government and military maintains that no abuse has been inflicted on the Rohingyas in Rakhine state.
• The military, however, did admit in January that extrajudicial killings of Rohingya had taken place in September 2017.
Rohingyas: The Dispute
• Myanmar passed its Citizenship Law in 1982 in which it recognised eight races and 130 minority groups but it excluded the minority Rohingya Muslims from citizenship.
• Later, it passed a second law that limited the Rohingya Muslim residence to two townships in the western state of Rakhine, which borders Bangladesh.
• The second law for Rohingyas also restricted them to have only two children, a restriction that does not apply to majority Buddhist population.
• According to Myanmar government, the Rohingyas are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who were brought to Myanmar by the Britishers as builders and settlers.