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Myanmar violence draws global condemnation

The European Union, the U.S. and their allies issued a joint statement Friday about the rising violence in Myanmar.


"We, Australia, Canada, the European Union, the Republic of Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, are deeply concerned by the escalating conflict in Myanmar and in particular the increasing harm to civilians, which is driving a worsening and devastating human rights and humanitarian crisis across the country," the statement said.


The U.N. human rights office said Friday it has received "frightening and disturbing reports" from Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State about the impact fighting between the country’s military and the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group, is having on Rohingya civilians.


"Some of the most serious allegations," according to a statement from Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, "concern incidents of killing of Rohingya civilians and the burning of their property."


An estimated 45,000 Rohingya have recently fled from fighting in the towns of Buthidaung and Maungdaw and have sought refuge on the Naf River near Bangladesh, Throssell said, where already more than 1 million Rohingya have sought refuge.


During the violence in the two towns, Throssell said the U.N.’s human rights office had documented "renewed attacks" on Rohingya civilians by the military and the Arakan Army.


There were reports of aerial strikes and "shooting at unarmed fleeing villagers, beheadings, disappearances, burnings of homes," Throssell said.


The nations’ joint statement said the abuses committed against the civilian population include "airstrikes on homes, schools, places of worship and hospitals, as well as torture, the use of civilians as human shields, and sexual and gender-based violence against women and children."


"The number of people in humanitarian need has risen from 1 million to 18.6 million," the joint statement continued, "since the February 2021 coup d’etat," a reference to the military coup against the civilian government that declared the results of its election not valid and arrested National League for Democracy senior officials including State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.


Myanmar’s military and armed groups have "consistently targeted" the towns and villages of Rakhine State where there have been reports of "high levels of displacement" and "forced recruitment, including of the Rohingya," the group said.


The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority group who have lived for generations in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. They have been denied not only citizenship but also basic rights and protections.

"For years the military has targeted the Rohingya and actively enforced draconian and discriminatory restrictions affecting all aspects of their lives," said Throssell.


In 2017, Myanmar’s government led a campaign against the Rohingya that included rape, murder and the burning of their homes and villages. Nearly a million Rohingya sought refuge in nearby Bangladesh.


The U.N.’s human rights office has called for an immediate end to the conflict and for the protection of all civilians "without any distinction based on identity" and the "prompt and unhindered" delivery of humanitarian relief.


Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.



 

VOA News, 2024

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