Excerpt from the UN Human Right Flash Report ; Source
While discrimination against the Rohingya has been endemic for decades in nRS, as described in a High Commissioner’s report to the Human Rights Council in 2016, the recent level of violence is unprecedented.
The testimonies gathered by the team – the killing of babies, toddlers, children, women and elderly; opening fire at people fleeing; burning of entire villages; massive detention; massive and systematic rape and sexual violence; deliberate destruction of food and sources of food – speak volumes of the apparent disregard by Tatmadaw and BGP officers that operate in the lockdown zone for international human rights law, in particular the total disdain for the right to life of Rohingyas.
The testimonies the team gathered from those fleeing the lockdown area and its most affected villages (Kyet Yoe Pyin, Wa Peik, Ngar Sar Kyu, Pwint Hpuy Chaung, Yae Khat Chaung Gwa Son and Dar Gyi Zar) describe “area clearance operations” that seem to be in line with the Tatmadaw’s counter-insurgency “four cuts” strategy – a strategy developed in the 1960s to cut off rebel forces from their four main support sources (food, funds, intelligence, recruits), and largely unchanged since. This strategy is said to involve cordoning off territory for concentrated operations, a “calculated policy of terror”, to force populations to move, destruction of villages in sensitive areas and confiscation or destruction of food stocks.
The Myanmar security forces lost 10 officers in the 9 October and 12 November attacks. However, the testimonies as well as the satellite imagery analysis from three independent sources indicate clearly that the security forces have deliberately targeted the entire Rohingya population in the area, instead of investigating those who may have been linked to the 9 October attacks on the three BGP locations. The “area clearance operations” have likely resulted in hundreds of deaths and have led to an estimated 66,000 people fleeing into Bangladesh and 22,000 being internally displaced.
The testimonies gathered by OHCHR indicate that the attacks against Rohingya villages, and the associated serious violations affecting the right to life and physical integrity and the destruction of houses, food stocks and sources of food make it impossible for Rohingyas to live in their villages, thereby creating a coercive environment amounting to forced displacement.
The “calculated policy of terror” that the Tatmadaw has implemented in nRS since 9 October cannot be seen as an isolated event. It must be read against the long-standing pattern of violations and abuses; systematic and systemic discrimination; and policies of exclusion and marginalization against the Rohingya that have been in place for decades in nRS, as described in the HC’s report to the HRC (A/HRC/32/18). Even before 9 October, widespread discriminatory policies and/or practices targeting them on the basis of their ethnic and/or religious identity had led to an acute deprivation of fundamental rights.
The information gathered by OHCHR indicates that the victims of killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings and other violations outlined in this report, were targeted based on their belonging to a particular ethnicity and religion.
Many victims mentioned that soldiers and officers taunted them by saying that Islam is not the religion of Myanmar; that Rohingyas are Muslim Bengalis; and that Rohingyas would be eliminated from Myanmar. They were mocking their religion while beating and arresting them, saying things such as “call your Allah to come and save you”, “What can your Allah do for you? See what we can do?” This raises serious concerns that these acts amount to persecution against a particular ethnic and religious group.
The attacks against the Rohingya population in the area (killings, enforced disappearances, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, arbitrary detention, deportation and forced transfer as a result of violence and persecution) seems to have been widespread as well as systematic, indicating the very likely commission of crimes against humanity (as the High Commissioner concluded already in June 2016).
The forcible displacement of persons from an ethnic or religious group as a consequence of acts of violence committed against them such as killings, torture, arbitrary detention, rape and sexual violence and the destruction of houses and places of worship has been described in other contexts as ethnic cleansing. The information gathered by OHCHR raises serious concerns that what is occurring in nRS is the result of a “purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas”.48 An estimated 66,000 have so far been forced to leave the land they have lived in for generations.
As one interviewee from Pwint Hpuy Chaung stated: