Army offensive aimed at ‘preventing’ Rohingya return

Myanmar security forces have carried out “well-organised, coordinated and systematic” attacks aimed at preventing the Rohingya ethnic group from returning, the UN Human Rights office said in a report on Wednesday. 

The report based on interviews with Rohingya who arrived in Bangladesh in the past month, said that “clearance operations” had begun before armed attacks on police posts on August 25 and included killings, torture, and rape of children.

More than half a million Rohingya Muslims have been driven out of northern Rakhine State, and their homes torched and crops and villages destroyed, the UN office said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein – who has described the government operations as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” – said in a statement that the actions appeared to be “a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return”.

“Credible information indicates that the Myanmar security forces purposely destroyed the property of the Rohingyas, scorched their dwellings and entire villages in northern Rakhine State, not only to drive the population out in droves but also to prevent the fleeing Rohingya victims from returning to their homes,” the latest report by his Geneva office said.

A statement released by his office contained an account given by a 12-year-old girl, who said security forces and Buddhist civilians, surrounded her house and opened fire. 

You do not belong here, go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you

Myanmar security forces, according to witnesses cited in UN report

“It was a situation of panic, they shot my sister in front of me, she was only seven years old,” she said, adding “she cried and told me to run.”

“I tried to protect her and care for her, but we had no medical assistance on the hillside and she was bleeding so much that after one day she died.  

“I buried her myself.”

Others said the attackers used megaphones to warn Rohingya residents to leave under threat of death.

“You do not belong here, go to Bangladesh. If you do not leave, we will torch your houses and kill you,” they are reported to have said.

The UN says more than 500,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the Myanmar military launched an operation ostensibly aimed as countering Rohingya fighters.

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