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Two major reports show evidence of mass rape and genocide against Rohingyas

Families fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine walk for days across hills and through jungles to reach the Bangladesh border, often with little food
Dibyangshu SARKAR (AFP)
"Burmese military's barbaric acts of violence have left countless women brutally harmed and traumatized."

Two substantial reports by the United States Holocaust Museum and Human Rights watch published on Wednesday and Thursday respectively detail increasing evidence of human rights violations, ethnic cleansing, and proof of mass rape against Rohingya women and girls in Myanmar.

The US-based rights Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday that Myanmar troops gang-raped countless Rohingya women and girls during a military campaign that sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border to Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, ‘They Tried to Kill Us All’ a report commissioned by the United States Holocaust Museum has found “mounting evidence” of genocide with rape and sexual violence used prominent as a method of repression.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military launched a counter-insurgency operation in northern Rakhine state in late August.

While the army insists it has only targeted Rohingya rebels, refugees massing in grim Bangladeshi camps have described chilling and consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of security forces and Buddhist mobs.

"Rape has been a prominent and devastating feature of the Burmese military's campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya," said Skye Wheeler, a researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "The Burmese military's barbaric acts of violence have left countless women and girls brutally harmed and traumatized."

Dibyangshu SARKAR (AFP)

Of the 29 rape survivors interviewed, all but one were gang-raped by two or more perpetrators. In eight cases, women and girls reported being raped by five or more soldiers.

Women described witnessing the murders of their young children, spouses, and parents before being raped. Many rape survivors said they endured days of agony walking with swollen and torn genitals to reach Bangladesh.

Human Rights Watch documented six cases of mass rape during which soldiers gathered women in groups before beating and gang-raping them.

The report quoted 33-year-old Mamtaz Yunis as saying soldiers trapped her and about 20 other women on the side of a hill after they fled their village and raped women in front of them.

The rights group interviewed 52 Rohingya women and girls, including 29 rape survivors, three of them girls under 18, who came from 19 villages in northern Rakhine state.

- Mounting evidence of genocide -

The United States Holocaust Museum report follows a year long investigation detailing how Myanmar’s security forces carried out “crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing” in an “unprecedented, widespread, systematic” campaign of violence.

Co-written by the, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide and the Southeast Asia rights group, Fortify Rights, the report is based on 200 in-depth eyewitness interviews to the levels of violence waged against the minority group.

NOEL CELIS (AFP/File)

Rape survivors and eyewitness describe how soldiers “surrounded and separated their captives by gender”, conducting “aggressive body searches” and then selecting girls who were then raped or killed. One Rohingya victim explained how she pleaded “please do not do this, I already have a husband.”

Other testimonies detail a number of horrific acts of cruelty, with one survivor recounting how the Myanmar army, “hacked small children who were half alive”, whilst another detailed burning victims alive and beating civilians to death.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a meeting on Tuesday, the need to ensure humanitarian access and sustained returns, as well as true reconciliation between communities.

The Security Council has called on Myanmar to end military operations in Rakhine, grant access to aid workers and allow the safe return of the Rohingya refugees.

(Staff with AFP)

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