A woman displaced by the violence in the Kyukphyu township cries after arriving to Thaechaung refugee camp, outside of Sittwe on 28 October 2012. (Reuters)

Fortify Rights Urges Govt To Stop Attacks On Muslims in Rakhine State

An international human rights organization urged the Burma government to immediately stop attacks and abuses against Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine State.

In an interview with Karen News, Matthew Smith, the executive director of the international human rights group Fortify Rights stressed that Burma’s government should immediately stop its persecution of the country’s Muslim community.

“The local authorities are conducting mass arrests of Muslim men and boys in northern Rakhine State, which should immediately end, and the authorities must ensure due process rights for all those detained in areas surrounding the site of recent mass killings of Rohingya,” he said.

Mr Smith called for the Burma government to grant unfettered access to the area of recent attacks in Du Char Yar Tan village, Maungdaw Township for “humanitarian organizations, independent observers, and national and international media.”

Fortify Rights allege that, “at least 40 Rohingya from the village were killed and several hundred were forcibly displaced in the last week. The actual number of deaths may be higher, but information is circumscribed by government-imposed restrictions on access to the area.”

Mr Smith claims that since the attacks, local authorities ordered riot police to “indiscriminately arrest all male Rohingya, including children over age ten, in areas surrounding Du Char Yar Tan.”

Mr Smith said despite denials by government officials that any violence or killing took place in Maungdaw Township, apart from the suspected death of a police sergeant, there “needs to be accountability for this wave of horrific violence in Maungdaw Township, but mass arrests of Muslim men and boys are not the way.”

Mr Smith said local officials have effectively locked-down the area – residents, independent observers and the media have been denied access to the area.

“The government should immediately provide unfettered humanitarian access to the area and grant access for national and international media.”

Mr Smith said the Burma government’s boasts of reforms to the international community are beginning to unravel and look tattered.

“The authorities can’t defensibly speak the language of human rights reform while sealing off the site of yet another massacre in Rakhine State.”

Fortify Rights allege that “since violence erupted in Rakhine State in June 2012, hundreds have been killed, at least 145,000 Muslims have been displaced, 40,000 others are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, and tens of thousands have fled the country by sea.”

A year and a half after initial violence, displaced Rohingya in Rakhine State still lack adequate shelter, drinking water, latrines, and health care, despite assurances from state and central governments’.

Fortify Rights is an independent human rights organization based in Southeast Asia and registered in Switzerland and the United States.

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