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Rohingya flock to Bangladesh to escape violence

Stories of atrocities perpetrated by Myanmar security forces are common, including arbitrary arrests, killings and rape

Rohingya flock to Bangladesh to escape violence

Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar at a camp in Bangladesh. (ucanews.com photo) 

Rock Ronald Rozario, Dhaka
Bangladesh

January 4, 2017

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Despite the border being sealed off on both sides, Rohingya Muslims continue to flock to Bangladesh to escape the deadly military crackdown in Rakhine state, western Myanmar.

Myanmar authorities said on Jan. 2 that four police officers were being investigated over a video that appears to show officers beating members of the Muslim Rohingya minority during a security operation, presumably in November.

The video went viral on social media and sparked international outrage as Burmese authorities repeatedly denied allegations of a genocidal crackdown on Rohingya minorities by security forces. The government claims to be conducting counter-insurgency operations after militants attacked Myanmar border posts on Oct. 9, killing nine border police and looting arms and ammunition.

 Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have criticized the Myanmar government for failing to halt "scorched-earth operations" in Rakhine state, labeling them "ethnic cleansing."

Muhammad Kabir, 55, a Rohingya community leader from Leda unregistered camp in Cox’s Bazar district, says Rohingyas from Rakhine continue to cross the Naf River and enter into the camp.

"I know of one family who came to the camp yesterday with assistance from brokers on both sides and the help of their relatives here," Kabir, a father of eight living in Leda camp for over 10 years, told ucanews.com.

Kabir says Leda camp, set up in 1991, housed 2,182 families in October with an estimated 13,000 people. The camp has seen an influx of 2,800 families or about 15,000 new refugees as of Jan 2.

"Here, people are poor because they can’t go outside and don’t have many employment opportunities. Yet people are hosting large families and feeding them as they can with support from humanitarian groups," Kabir said.

He said stories of atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmar security forces are common, including the burning of houses, arbitrary arrests, killings and rape. But recent arrivals have shared another horrific method used by the military.

"Some of them told me the military would round up villagers and inject poisonous chemical into their bodies. Within one or two days, they die out slowly," Kabir said.  

 

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