Instead, the government commissioned a series of internal probes that have exonerated the military or otherwise disintegrated.
Interestingly, the UN report came out the same day two Reuters journalists, who were arrested last year while investigating soldiers’ participation in the Rohingya massacre, were expected to be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison, but the ruling was postponed for a week. Such silencing and intimidation of the media, as well as the complete exclusion of the press from Rakhine, raises questions and concerns about what has and is happening there and the extent of the massacre. Satellite images have shown whole Rohingya villages wiped out and razed to the ground in the aftermath of the attack on Aug. 25 last year.
On the other hand, Myanmar has used social media to spread its own views of the situation, considering the Rohingya as “illegal Bengalis” who invaded their land and do not belong there, even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Their citizenship had been revoked in 1982 and they have since been rendered stateless. The UN report called Facebook “a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate,” which prompted the company to delete dozens of accounts run by Myanmar’s military leaders.
After being denied access, the UN team relied on interviews with more than 870 victims and eyewitnesses and a large collection of videos and photos to corroborate accounts of the atrocities. They estimated that at least 10,000 people had died in the most recent violence in Rakhine and found that soldiers carried out “large-scale gang rape.”
An OIC delegation also heard accounts from victims during a visit to the refugee camps in the border area of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands had fled. Being part of that delegation, it was difficult to hear a sobbing father describe how his child was snatched from his arms and thrown into the fire of their burning home; or the traumatized young woman talk about being brutally gang raped by the military and left to die in the forest; and another woman who saw her husband and son shot in front of her eyes.
The release of the report coincided with the first anniversary of this latest nightmare for the Rohingya, who have suffered repeated incidents of violence and abuse and denial of their basic human rights, with no end in sight to their suffering.
What is also worrying is the trend of similar targeting of
Muslim minority groups in neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka, China and even India, whether in the form of reported cases of violence and abuse or restrictions on movement and worship or stripping of their citizenship.
It is time to hold the perpetrators of the atrocities in Myanmar to account and ensure that no further abuses or violence are carried out. Meanwhile, Bangladesh continues to need the support of the international community to take care of the almost 1 million refugees in its territory. It is also necessary to have the assistance of international organizations in the repatriation of the Rohingya to their homes and villages in Myanmar based on the agreement signed between the two countries, which must be done under international supervision to guarantee the returning refugees’ safety and the reinstatement of their citizenship.
(Courtesy : Arab News)