Stories of horror from Myanmar’s Rakhine State
Their homes burned and relatives killed, Rohingya have been fleeing northern Myanmar since October.
They trek for miles along a dangerous route — risking drowning, disease and capture by the military — to cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh, where refugee camps provide temporary shelter.
Tens of thousands of members of Myanmar’s Muslim minority have left in this fashion, and their treatment may amount to “crimes against humanity,” warns UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee.
“When there’s 77,000 people running away from their home towns, leaving everything … the international community should really step up to the plate,” she told CNN.
Lee has visited northern Rakhine State, which has been largely off limits to journalists and NGO workers since early October, and spoken to many refugees.
“What really struck me was when old men started to break down in tears in front of me and sob,” she said, when interviewed on CNN’s Newstream on Monday. “(They were) telling me they’ve seen their whole family killed in front of their eyes.”
Myanmar government spokeswoman Aye Aye Soe said the administration is “deeply concerned by reports of potential human rights abuses and have already set up an Investigation Commission led by Vice President U Myint Swe.”
The Myanmar government did not respond to a request for comment about Lee’s claims. In a 4,000-word statement given to CNN in February, Aye Aye Soe denied allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine.
“What is happening in Rakhine now is only security clearance sweeps being carried out with restraint and within rules and regulations against armed perpetrators,” she said. “The instigators are using this situation to portray a disproportionate picture of ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’.”
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