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Rohingya Crisis: Int'l people's tribunal reveals horrific details of atrocities

A woman from Laung Don village fled her house when Myanmar soldiers came into the village, leaving behind her sister who had just given birth and her newborn baby.

Later, upon her return to the village, she found their bodies, said Razia Sultana, a human rights activist and Chittagong-based lawyer who visited the Kutupalong Refugee Camp on December 21-24 last year and interviewed the woman along with 20 other female refugees.

The women told her that altogether 16 of their children had been killed, injured or declared missing.

Razia revealed the details in her evidence presentation on the second day of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal held at the Law Faculty of Universiti Malaya today.

"Two of their babies were burned alive, one had his throat cut while another was thrown to the ground and is now brain damaged,” she added.

The women also reported seeing at least 70 women and girls being raped, taken away to be raped or were found after being raped.

"They told me that most rapes took place when the women were forcibly gathered outside their villages during security operations.

In Yae Khat Chaung Gwa Son village, groups of soldiers pulled young women away to be raped. Some were just 10 or 12 year olds,” she said.

In her presentation, she said the women could see the girls being raped by over 30 soldiers and men in civilian shorts.

"They were gang raped. Each girl was raped by five to six men in turn. They cut off their clothes and held a knife to their mouths so they would not shout," Razia said, recalling her interview.

The women were then forced to deny these violations by the Myanmar police and soldiers in front of the camera.

"They were rounded up in a field at a police station and guns were pointed at them. They were asked, “Who burned your houses? Was it RSO (Rohingya Solidarity Organisation)? Did RSO kill your parents and children?”

Afraid they would be shot if they said no, the women had to say it was the RSO who burned their homes and committed the killing,” she said.

According to Razia, in January, an interim report of the National Investigation Committee into the Maungdaw Attacks, led by the vice president and former army general, Myint Swe, found “insufficient evidence” of rape allegations.

"In February, the United Nations in its Special Rapporteur after a visit to the Bangladesh border found “allegation after allegation of horrific events” having taken place in the Rakhine state.

"However on March 10, the National League for Democracy-led government spokesperson in response said that the United Nations' claims of crimes against humanity in Rakhine are exaggerated,” she added.

In her presentation, Razia also called on the international community to use every means, including diplomatic and economic sanctions, to pressure the Myanmar government.

“We have to make sure to hold their security forces accountable for the recent atrocities in Maungdaw. We must also end the systematic persecution of the Rohingya,” she said.

The tribunal, taking place today until Friday, is held to hear crimes against humanity that were carried out by the government forces in Myanmar on the Rohingya and other minority ethnic groups.

The judges at the tribunal are Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, Shadi Sadr, Gill H. Boehringer, Daniel Feierstein, Helen Jarvis, Nello Rossi and Zulaiha Ismail.

The findings from the tribunal will be delivered to international bodies, especially the United Nations, for further action to be taken against Myanmar and with the aim of ending the violence at the same time.


(c) 2017 Maung Zarni

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