Myanmar urges Rohingyas to help hunt insurgents, as situation deteriorates
Myanmar has urged members of the Rohingya Muslim community to cooperate with authorities searching for insurgents who launched coordinated attacks on security posts on August 26. The attacks were followed by an army crackdown leading to the deadliest bout of violence to hit the Rohingya committee in decades. The violence has forced 73,000 Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, according to the UN.
On August 26, at least 77 Rohingyas and 12 members of Myanmar's security forces were killed in the country's restive Rakhine state after a rebel group attacked police posts and an army base. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for the attack. It comes amid increasing international concern over Myanmar's questionable treatment of the Rohingya minority, which includes alleged human rights abuses.
The Rohingyas are an ethnic Muslim group who constitute around one million of Myanmar's predominantly Buddhist 50 million population. They speak a Bengali dialect, mainly reside in the country's impoverished northern Rakhine state. Myanmar views them as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and doesn't officially recognize them as its citizens, rendering them stateless. The Rohingyas have allegedly been subjected to human rights abuses by Myanmar.
Nearly 400 people have been killed in clashes and the military counteroffensive over the past week. This represents a major escalation in the conflict which has been brewing since October 2016, when another Rohingya attack on security posts led to a military crackdown. The crackdown by security personnel was characterized by widespread allegations of human rights abuses.
Bangladeshi officials said at least 53 bodies of Rohingya refugees were found either floating in the Naf river of washed up on the beach over the past week. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the anti-Rohingya violence, saying it amounted to genocide.
Over 2,600 houses were burned down in the Rohingya-majority Rakhine state over the past week. Burmese officials have blamed the Rohingya ARSA insurgent group for the arson. However, Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh said the Myanmar army has launched a campaign of arson and killings against them, forcing them to leave. The Human Rights Watch has also accused the army of deliberately setting fires.
The entry of journalists into Rakhine has been restricted by Myanmar officials. Several international aid programs, including the life-saving food assistance by the World Food Programme (WFP), have all been suspended since clashes broke out. This is expected to worsen the already deteriorating food security situation in the region. Over 80,000 children in northern Rakhine may require treatment for malnutrition, WFP said in July.