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Rohingya Muslim civilians beg for protection in Myanmar

Government responds to video showing police beating, kicking unarmed men

Rohingya Muslim civilians beg for protection in Myanmar

Bangladeshis march towards the Myanmar embassy in Dhaka on Dec. 6, 2016, to protest against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. (Photo by AFP)

The dire situation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine continues to deteriorate with a video record of police brutality, even as refugees still flee to camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

Kyaw Min, chairman of Democracy and Human Rights-Rohingya party in Yangon, said that the arrest and torture of civilians remain a serious problem in the villages of northern Rakhine.

"What we want is the protection of civilians according to rule of law," Kyaw Min told ucanews.com.

He said three of his relatives from Buthidaung Township were arrested due to alleged links to militants that the military blames for an attack on border guards last October and that they had faced torture during interrogation.

"The situation is very bad and it is a dilemma for people — whether to flee to Bangladesh or remain in Rakhine amid bloody military operations," said Kyaw Min.

The Myanmar government said on Jan. 2 that they have detained several police officers over a video shot by a fellow policeman that recorded police severely beating Rohingya civilians in a village in Rathedaung Township on Nov. 5.

State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s office said in a statement on Jan. 1 that those who were initially identified were detained.

"Further investigations are being carried out to expose other police officers who beat villagers in the operation."

The footage shows police hitting a young boy around the head as he walked to dozens of villagers who were lined up in rows, seated on the ground, hands behind their heads, with one repeatedly being beaten and kicked.

Several videos have emerged on social media showing abuses against the Rohingya Muslims but this is a rare admission by the government who vows to take action against the police officers.

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At least 600 people have been detained since the military launched operations Oct. 9 including six people who died in police custody, according to state media.

Thousands of Rohingya have fled amid bloody military operations in an ethnically divided Rakhine, launched after border attacks erupted in October.

The United Nations had estimated at least 34,000 refugees in camps in Bangladesh, while Dhaka said some 50,000 Rohingya have crossed its border in the last two months.

Sultan, a Rohingya Muslim from Maungdaw Township in northern Rakhine, said that Rohingya Muslims are still fleeing from Rakhine as the situation remains tense in the region.

Arresting villagers is continuing, he claimed relaying that he heard that nine people from his village were arrested last week and three were released later.

"People fled from Rakhine into Bangladesh as homes were burnt down by security forces. Food is scarce as the military have blocked humanitarian aid and communities are living in constant fear," Sultan, a retired schoolteacher, told ucanews.com.

Myanmar government has been criticized by the international community over its ill treatment of Rohingya and Nobel Laureate Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s continued silence over the Rohingya issue.

Dozens of Nobel Laureates, including African Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote to the UN Security Council last week, urging action to stop the "human tragedy amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" in northern Rakhine.

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