Myanmar army 'massacres' Rohingya villagers as exodus continues
In the past month more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled bloodshed in Myanmar, with Bangladesh reporting as many as 5,000 crossing into the country every day.
The influx began after August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants spurred a ferocious Myanmar army crackdown that the UN says amounted to "ethnic cleansing".
Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that days after the forced exodus began, Myanmar's military summarily executed Rohingya Muslims in Maung Nu Village in Rakhine State.
Witnesses told the rights group that soldiers beat, sexually assaulted, stabbed, and shot villagers who gathered for safety in a residential compound on August 27.
Survivors said that Burmese soldiers entered the compound and took several dozen Rohingya men and boys into the courtyard with their hands bound behind their back.
They were then beaten, shot, and stabbed to death, while others who attempted to flee were killed.
"[T]hey killed people from the back with machetes and they also fired on them with their guns," witness Abdul Jabar, 60, said.
|Over 214 Rohingya villages have been destroyed by Myanmar's military in Rakhine State
|First [Staff Sergeant ] Baju shot him in the head, his skull shattered into four pieces. Then he fell down. I saw there were brain and blood on the floor
- Khotiaz recounts execution of her 10-year-old nephew
Others described seeing children executed, with Khotiaz, 28, recounting the execution of her 10-year-old nephew.
"First [Staff Sergeant ] Baju shot him in the head, his skull shattered into four pieces. Then he fell down. I saw there were brain and blood on the floor."
Mustafa, 22, said he saw a pit with the bodies of "10 to 15 children, all under 12 years old."
"They were all young children hacked to death," he said.
The removal of the bodies took hours, witnesses said, with soldiers gathering the remains and loading them onto pushcarts before transferring them to military vehicles.
HRW has not been able to verify the number of villagers killed, but witnesses say the death toll could be over one hundred people.
"All the horrors of the Burmese army's crimes against humanity against the Rohingya are evident in the mass killings in Maung Nu village," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
"These atrocities demand more than words from concerned governments; they need concrete responses with consequences."
The massacre occurred days after reported attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25, which the army says killed 11 security personnel.
|All the horrors of the Burmese army's crimes against humanity against the Rohingya are evident in the mass killings in Maung Nu village
In recent weeks, Rohingya refugees fleeing state violence in Myanmar have described whole villages being emptied and thousands marching to the border with Bangladesh as security forces accelerate efforts to drive Muslims from their homes.
In the past month more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled bloodshed in Myanmar with Bangladesh reporting as many as 5,000 crossing into the country every day.
An estimated 10,000 have amassed in Myanmar near a border crossing and are poised to join the hundreds of thousands who have sought refuge in the country.
The spike in new arrivals casts doubt on a proposal aired this week by Myanmar that it would begin repatriating the persecuted minority.
|More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled bloodshed in Myanmar, with Bangladesh reporting as many as 5,000 crossing into the country every day|
Rashida Begum, who arrived in Bangladesh late Monday, said local officials assured the Rohingya community for weeks that they would be safe if they stayed back in their villages.
"(But then) the army came and went door to door, ordering us to leave," she told AFP of the military sweep in Maungdaw on Friday.
"They said they wouldn't harm us, but eventually they drove us out and burned our houses."
Nurul Amin, who arrived Sunday after the military ordered his village to be evacuated, described a long column of Rohingya civilians growing in size as it snaked toward the coast.
"As we left, people from villages all around us started joining. They (the Myanmar army) weren't killing anyone, just burning houses," he told AFP.
Thick plumes of smoke could be seen from Bangladesh rising beyond the border on Tuesday. An EU delegation in Rakhine earlier this week urged an end to the violence after seeing "villages burned to the ground and emptied of inhabitants".
Rakhine State has been emptied of half of its Rohingya population in weeks, and more are on the move as insecurity presses them to leave villages that have so far been spared the worst of the violence ripping through the state.