by John Blaxland and Elaine Pearson
The world seems to be sitting on its hands as the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar descends into what the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
In just three weeks, more than 380,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.
On August 25, an armed Rohingya group attacked a string of police posts and a military base in northern Rakhine State, killing a dozen security officers. In response, Burmese security forces unleashed a devastating campaign of killing, forced expulsions and burning of entire villages.
Momena, 32, described her flight from the village of Kirgari Para on August 26 when soldiers approached.
“I fled with the other villagers and we sheltered in the jungle overnight. When I returned to the village the next morning, after the soldiers had left, I saw about 40 to 50 villagers dead, including some children and some elderly,” she said.
“All had knife wounds or bullet wounds — some had both.”
Rohingya refugees jostle to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. (Reuters: Danish Siddiqui)
Momena made it safely to Bangladesh with two of her children, but said she had to leave her husband and 10-year-old son behind. She has had no news of them since.
Rohingya in Myanmar have faced decades of discrimination and persecution, at times evolving into full-scale violence.
It is unsurprising that some among the million or so Rohingya have taken to violence against the Myanmar government. The Myanmar authorities see the Rohingya as unwelcome Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh,…