LONDON- Local witness report suggests at least 20 Rohingya Muslims have been murdered by Buddhist mobs.
At least 20 Rohingya Muslims were killed by a mob in the latest violence in Western Myanmar, according to AA sources in the region.
A group of Buddhists rampaged through a village in Rakhine state killing the elderly, women and children, according to AA sources.
Witnesses claim the trouble started when eight Rohingya villagers went missing and were found dead in a ditch on 13 January. Villagers from the settlement of Du Char Yar Tan, near the city of Maungdaw were reportedly alerted to the corpses by a witness. It has been rumoured that the victims were murdered by a Rakhine village administrator with the aid of local police.
After a group of Rohingya attempted to return the bodies to Du Char Yar Tan, five policemen arrived at the village and attempted to intimidate the villagers – who had earlier taken pictures and videos of the bodies. Police also allegedly raped a Rohingya girl and violence broke out shortly after, resulting in the death of one officer.
Two hours later a large Buddhist mob, accompanied by members of the police and military, surrounded the village. A witness said when the mob began its assault, “the men escaped from the village, and some of the woman and children could not escape. These people, we do not know about their condition and we also believe that they were killed.”
“The army and Rakhine villagers attacked together. Not less than a hundred people were attacked,” said a witness. “No-one can enter the village, up till now, the army and police are surrounding the village.”
Reports from other sources appear to confirm that the military was present during, and may have pariticipated in, the attack. Such behaviour would fit a pattern of previous attacks on the Rohingya, as documented in reports produced by the international media and human rights organisations.
Speaking with AA, the President of the Burmese Rohingya organisation in the UK said, “The international community is failing to put pressure on Burma.” Concerning the latest incident he reported that sources had told him “authorities tried to cover up their crimes and are intimidating the Rohingya to stay quiet.” He also told AA that 150 homes have been destroyed after the recent violence.
“They are trying to force all the Rohingya out. Rohingya are forced to live in camps, they are trying to commit genocide,” he continued.
Another villager told AA that they saw trucks with bodies being taken to the forest and that many villagers are still in hiding from the authorities without food or water.
Tensions have been high since a group of Monks from a Buddhist extremist movement known as 969 visited the region last month and gave sermons advocating the expulsion of all Rohingya.
Rohingya Muslims are not recognised as Burmese citizens and have been the victims of a string of sectarian attacks since June 2012. The violence has left hundreds of Rohingya dead and prompted tens of thousands to flee the country. Many of the Rohingya are forced to live in camps which lack adequate sanitation, access to water or food.
Rakhine state authorities deny anyone has been killed but the Burmese government has been asked by the US to investigate the deaths.