Buddhist-Muslim violence in Myanmar appears to have escalated into a wider anti-Muslim campaign, according to the rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
The violence has been concentrated in Rakhine state, with the Rohingya Muslim community the main victims.
But Muslims generally, not only Rohingyas, are now facing attacks, Andrew Johnston, CSW’s advocacy director, said in a statement yesterday.
The statement follows a report in the British newspaper The Observer
, which said that many of those displaced last week when the town of Kyaukpyu was largely destroyed were not stateless Rohingyas but members of the officially recognized Kaman Muslim community.
“It’s not just anti-Rohingya violence any more, it’s anti-Muslim,” it quoted Chris Lewa, director of a Rohingya advocacy group, Arakan Project, as saying.
CSW called on the United Nations to invoke the “responsibility to protect” principle under which the UN has the right to intervene by “diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means” to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
In the past week, CSW said, thousands of homes in Rakhine state have been destroyed, hundreds of people killed and more than 100,000 displaced.
CSW accused “some elements within the security forces” of acting in collusion with mobs, attacking, killing and arresting Rohingyas. Muslim clerics have been arrested, it said.
“It is widely believed that elements of the government are directing a policy to eliminate the Rohingyas,” CSW said.
It urged the international community to put pressure on the government to allow international observers and humanitarian aid into the affected areas.
“There is an urgent need for international action and aid to bring an end to this violence,” said Johnston. The crisis posed “a serious threat to peace and democratization” in Myanmar, he added.
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