Pope laments "persecutions" of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

Deadly attacks on border posts in western Myanmar's Rakhine state broke out on Friday, resulting in mass civilian casualties, leaving over 100 dead.

The militants launched the attacks overnight Thursday on more than two dozen police and border outposts.

Myanmar security forces intensified operations against Rohingya insurgents on Monday, police and other sources said, following three days of clashes with militants in the worst violence involving Myanmar's Muslim minority in five years.

Bangladesh border guards at the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, to prevent Rohingyas from crossing.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has asked the home affairs ministry to withdraw its advisory on deportation of Rohingya Muslims.

"Two of them have burn injuries while six have gunshot wounds".

The Myanmar government refuses to consider the Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority and considers them as illegal immigrants who came from neighboring Bangladesh.

Those who have got through took refuge in the mostly makeshift camps in the coastal town of Cox's Bazar, where some 400,000 Rohingya are already living after fleeing previous bouts of violence in Rakhine.

The group said many people including women and children took shelter in the jungle, others risked crossing the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, whereas most were stranded on the Myanmar-side of the Naf River as Bangladesh tightened its border security and continued to push back the fleeing Rohingya.

About 10 percent of the world's stateless people live in Myanmar and Rohingyas make up the single largest stateless community in the world.

"It's burning, burning, people fleeing", she said adding she had just received reports that 14 Rohingya in one village had been killed, but as with all allegations from the cut-off area, these deaths and arson allegation were hard to verify.

But statements also say the ambushes are being carried out by groups 300-500 strong, suggesting ARSA ranks have grown in recent months.

The Myanmar army has been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings in the restive Rakhine region, with residents and activists accusing soldiers of shooting indiscriminately at unarmed Rohingya men, women and children and carrying out arson attacks.

Centhra notes that there have been calls made by certain quarters for the scrapping of the non-interference clause in the Asean Charter to allow member states to intervene in Myanmar to stop the collective punishment, persecution, and violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, which Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak characterised a year ago as genocide.

Ashin Wirathu, a leader of a hard-line Buddhist movement, Ma Ba Tha, told the New York Times: "There is no Rohingya ethnic group in our country, but the pope believes they are originally from here".

Annan also condemned the new attacks, saying "no cause can justify such brutality and senseless killing" and urging the government to exercise restraint and "ensure that innocent civilians are not harmed".

  • Marlene Weaver